Bangalore: On a high after beating the in-form Kolkata Knight Riders, Kochi Tuskers Kerala would be wary of the Chris Gayle threat when they take on Royal Challengers Bangalore in their Indian Premier League match on Sunday.
Their bowling might have kept them in good stead in the 17-run victory against Kolkata earlier this week, but Tuskers will be faced with a much-stiffer Gayle challenge.
The towering West Indian has been in rollicking form, notching two centuries since joining the RCB ranks.
His punishing 49-ball 107 against Kings XI Punjab on Friday reeked of brutal aggression and disdain.
Interestingly, 96 of his runs were conjured from 10 fours and nine sixes, some heaves clearing the pickets by a mile.
If he continues to smash the ball the way he has been doing even the likes of R Vinay Kumar and S Sreesanth would be stressed to contain him on a wicket on which the ball has come nicely to the bat.
The Tuskers think-tank would have to devise a strategy to rein in the marauding left-hander.
But it would hugely challenging to contain him as he strides down the deck to hit the fast bowlers on the up and stays within the crease to plunder anything that has been dropped short of length.
Apart from Gayle, Tuskers will have to contend with the class and aggression of Tillakaratne Dilshan, Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers.
While Kohli and de Villiers have been in prime form, Dilshan is yet to live up to his billing as a specialist opener in Twenty20 cricket.
Though Zaheer Khan has been deprived of wickets, the RCB bowling has come good in the last two games with Sreesanth Aravind picking up wickets at crucial junctures. Gayle and Vettori have done their bit as well.
Tuskers will look up to Brendon McCullum, skipper Mahela Jayawardene, Parthiv Patel, Ravindra Jadeja and Brad Hodge to come up with scores in excess of 30 to either stitch a defendable total or chase a par score.
RCB, who have collected 11 points from nine matches, would seek to earn two points from a game which is a revenge match for them.
If they do so, they would augment their chance of advancing to the qualifiers.
On the other hand, Tuskers, who have eight points from nine matches, would put everything they have to garner the much-needed two points to keep themselves in the race for a slot in the qualifiers.
The Teams (from):
Kochi Tuskers Kerala: Mahela Jayawardene (c), Brendon McCullum, Parthiv Patel, Brad Hodge, Ravindra Jadeja, Kedar Jadhav, Thisara Perera, Raiphi Gomez, Rudra Pratap Singh, Ramesh Powar, VVS Laxman, Sreesanth, Muttiah Muralitharan,
Owais Shah, Steven Smith, Balachandra Akhil, Deepak Chougule, Gnaneswara Rao, John Hastings, Michael Klinger, Chandan Madan, Sushant Marathe, Steve O`Keefe, Tanmay Srivastava, Padmanabhan Prasanth and Yashpal Singh.
Royal Challengers Bangalore: Daniel Vettori (capt), Mayank Agarwal, Sreenath Aravind, Arun Karthik, BN Bharath, Raju Bhatkal, AB de Villiers, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Nuwan Pradeep, Muralidharen Gautam, Chris Gayle, Mohammad Kaif, Abrar Kazi, Zaheer Khan, Virat Kohli, Charl Langeveldt, Abhimanyu Mithun, Ryan Ninan, Asad Pathan, Luke Pomersbach, Cheteshwar Pujara, Rilee Rossouw, Jamaluddin Syed Mohammad, Saurabh Tiwary, Johan van der Wath, Jonathan Vandiar.