West Indies will take on India in a five-match One-Day International (ODI) series in India. The West Indies will not have the services of star batsman Chris Gayle in the one-day series. Indrajit Dutta looks at how serious Gayle’s absence could be for the West Indian side.
No Chris Gayle in the side— potentially a very deflating prospect. Gayle’s reputation as a fearsome batsman precedes him, but the last time he played a complete ODI series in India was way back in 2007. In addition to this, Gayle’s form in the recent past has been nothing to write home about. The question that arises then is whether this explosive West Indian line-up would miss him.
In the 2002 seven-match ODI series between India and West Indies, the flamboyant left-handed opening batsman had an excellent tournament as he hammered two hundreds in seven games. His 140 at Ahmedabad, when India chased 325, remains memorable. His form was one of the reasons why the West Indies beat India 4-3 in that particular series. In the last two or three years, however, Chris Gayle has not been in the form of his life in international cricket. Although he remains as belligerent as ever the form that turned him into the one of the most explosive batsman in world cricket has eluded him.
To add to this the West Indian squad that has been selected is packed with batsmen who can destroy bowling attacks and play a well-crafted one day-knock. On the one hand, there are the likes of the destructive Kieron Pollard, the inimitable Dwayne Bravo, and the explosive Dwayne Smith, while other hand they have the elegant Darren Bravo, the crafty Lendl Simmons and the experienced and astute Marlon Samuels. Even Darren Sammy and Andre Russell can use the long handle effectively. On the face of it, it appears that they have enough ammunition to ensure that Gayle’s absence will not impact them. The one problem that, however, has continued to dog the West Indies for some time now is inconsistency. In the last series in India in 2013 they lost the one-day series 2-1.
While Gayle’s absence is no doubt good news for any bowling side, the last time West Indies toured India — in 2013 — Gayle did not do anything substantial, his highest score being 32. Interestingly it was Bhuvneshwar Kumar who scalped him four times out of four in the two-test series. Bhuvneshwar finds a place in the Indian squad which will take on the West Indies this time. Whether or not Bhuvneshwar would have the same impact against Gayle in the one-day series is a matter of conjecture, but it cannot be denied that Gayle was far from convincing when facing Bhuvneshwar last time.
In the recently contested one-day series against Bangladesh, Gayle did reasonably well with three half-centuries with a best of 64. While a hundred eluded him, he perhaps would have been disappointed. The Indians are a much stronger side than Bangladesh and going into this series, bigger scores would have been to his benefit. However as luck would have it, injury has ruled Gayle out. While the West Indies would no doubt be better off with him in the side, they appear to have enough ammunition to combat his absence. One thing is for sure; the Indian crowds will be poorer without Chris Gayle.