Lions banking on Gayle effect

FILE PICTURE: Chris Gayle. Photo by Anesh Debiky / Gallo Images

FILE PICTURE: Chris Gayle. Photo by Anesh Debiky / Gallo Images

Few players in T20 cricket command the fear and intimidation quite like West Indian Chris Gayle, and the Highveld Lions have arguably snagged the biggest name of the domestic competition starting at the Wanderers on Sunday.

The aggressive, free-scoring, opening batsman has played 185 T20 matches amassing 6551 runs, a highest score of 175 not out and a strike rate of 146.

Gayle was also the first player to score a century in the shortened-format on the international stage, in a match against South Africa at the Twenty20 World Cup in 2007. He ended that knock with 117 from just 57 balls.

Records like these have built up the reputation of the vastly experienced 35-year-old from Jamaica, as a belligerent left-hander and the prized wicket for the opposition.

Gayle also bowls handy offspinners which can be difficult to get away in the high-scoring format.

Since the Lions finished bottom of the log in all three domestic competitions last season, it could take a player of Gayle’s class to spur them on to success in the T20 competition, which they won just two seasons ago.

Trinidad’s Kieron Pollard, meanwhile, was a huge signing for the Cobras. The Cape side were runners-up last season, and the explosive Pollard could well help the side to go one step further this time.

Pollard fancies himself as an allrounder and his statistics back that up — 175 wickets at an average of 23.55 in T20 cricket — but it is his explosive fast scoring with the willow which makes him a match-winner.

In 248 T20 matches, Pollard has plundered 4725 runs, at an outstanding strike rate of 153.

In Durban, the defending champions, the Dolphins, have secured the services of West Indies ODI captain Dwayne Bravo.

The 31-year-old, also from Trinidad, is one of the few genuine allrounders left in the game and has over 200 wickets to his name in T20 cricket.

Bravo is a prime example of a modern-day T20 cricketer, having played 214 matches while only turning out 40 times for his country in Tests since making his debut back in 2004.

Bravo has always placed IPL participation high on his agenda, currently contracted by the Chennai Super Kings and is a renowned T20 specialist.

With the bat, Bravo has churned out 3523 runs at a strike rate of 124 in T20s.

Darren Sammy was the West Indian acquisition for the Titans, and with his arrival the St Lucian will offer potential with both bat and ball.

A former Test and ODI captain, Bravo led the West Indies to victory in the World T20 tournament in 2012 beating hosts Sri Lanka in Colombo.

With 133 T20 matches under his belt, Sammy has notched up 1577 runs at a strike rate of 136.

In Bloemfontein, the Knights have acquired Andre Russell, another West Indian allrounder with a penchant for T20 cricket. Representing the Delhi Daredevils in the IPL, the 26-year-old has already played 114 T20 matches. His explosive hitting has seen him score 1408 runs in the format at a fraction under a phenomenal strike rate of 160.

In the bowling department, the tearaway quick from Jamaica can bowl speeds in excess of 140 km/h and will be a great asset to the Knights lineup.

The Warriors were the only team unable to secure the service of a West Indian overseas professional. Instead, they boast South African-born Craig Kieswetter in their lineup, who plays county cricket for Somerset and has represented England in both T20s and ODIs.

Having played for South Africa at the Under-19 World Cup in 2006, Kieswetter would be keen to make his mark in his country of birth.

The wicketkeeper batsman has played 114 T20 matches, scoring 3168 runs at a handy strike rate of 123.

The competition kicks off with a triple header at the Wanderers on Sunday where all six teams will be in action.

Fixtures: 10am – Knights v Warriors, 2pm – Cape Cobras v Titans, 6pm -Highveld Lions v Dolphins

– Sapa




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19 January 2019 TURFFONTEIN

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