Chris Gayle appears a man possessed, writes Shastri; Mark Waugh too in all praise for the Jamaican hurricane

Team Bangalore have really picked up the pace and Chris Gayle appears a man possessed, writes Ravi Shahstri in The Times Of India. “His innings against Delhi left everyone transfixed. I believe it’s on par with Rohit Sharma’s 109 and McCullum’s 150-knock in the inaugural year. Every bowler went through the grinder; every ball disappeared in the stands. Except for Gayle’s own side, nobody was safe: neither bowler, fielder nor spectator. Virat Kohli, accomplished in his own right, looked pedestrian in comparison,” writes Shastri, adding that Bangalore face Hyderabad as their final hurdle.

“That Hyderabad still deserve to be termed a hurdle is due to their rousing win over Rajasthan in the last game. Dale Steyn bowled with zeal and his clash with Gayle is alone worth buying a ticket for. Hyderabad have nothing to lose and will look to provide some cheer for the home fans.”

Shastri adds, Mumbai, similarly, have enough reasons to go for a win. Despite a passage to the playoffs, it’s been a disjointed campaign for Harbhajan’s men. “If the top order does well, the middle order flops. If the middle picks up the thread, the top is a letdown. Importantly, they have always found someone who has put up his hand at critical junctures. Ambati Rayudu, Rohit Sharma and even RP Singh have turned up the heat at times. Lasith Malinga has remained a bowler par excellence,” says Shastri.

Meanwhile Mark Waugh writes in Hindustan Times that the matches to be played today are crucial. “The Royal Challengers Bangalore face Deccan in a must-win battle. Bangalore have put together one of the best sides for the Twenty20 format but had a shaky start to the season because of which they find themselves in a spot of bother. But they are a team, who if they make it to the playoffs, can emerge victorious with ease.”

Deccan, on the other hand, had little luck with wins and decided to play party-spoilers for Rajasthan, adds Waugh. “Deccan ruined Rajasthan’s party, and would again look to do the same when they face Bangalore in Hyderabad, while Rajasthan look at a similar role against the Mumbai Indians, who should have won against the Kolkata Knight Riders at the Wankhede Stadium,” writes Waugh, adding that Deccan, however, have a huge obstacle in front of them named Chris Gayle.

“Cricket is no doubt a team sport but there are some individuals who make a huge difference, and such has been Gayle for Bangalore. His innings against Delhi at the Kotla was one of the best T20 innings ever. How many times have we seen a batsman hit 13 sixes in an innings? Without doubt he is the best in this format, and has created similar impact in various conditions all over the world.”

Meanwhile a report in The Hindu says that even as the City has been reeling under a severe heat wave, the cricket-crazy fans are in the mood to welcome another wave — in the form of Chris Gayle. “They would love to freeze in memory one more special innings from him, forgetting for a moment that the home team would be in the firing line. The fact that all tickets are sold out for the final league match of Deccan Chargers and Royal Challengers Bangalore at the Rajiv Gandhi Stadium here on Sunday could well be a reflection of the Gayle phenomenon that has hit fans across the country. It is a must-win game for Royal Challengers if it is to keep its hopes of qualifying for the play-offs (17 points from 15 games),” says the report.