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Of Windies carnage in IPL and WC dreams

Saturday - April 20, 2019 2:20 pm , Category : SPORTS
New Delhi, April 20 (IANS) Which is the one thing that has been consistent in the ongoing edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL)? One might say it has been the explosive batting performance from tainted Australian batsman David Warner, who has made a remarkable comeback to the cash-rich league after missing out the last edition. It can also be the as-expected winning run of the M.S. Dhoni-led Chennai Super Kings, or one might argue for the awful run by Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB), which boasts of being led by the best batsman in the world at the moment.

However, the one thing that stands apart above all these is the performance of the West Indies cricketers in IPL 2019 -- be it swashbuckling opener Chris Gayle coming to the party, playing for the Kings XI Punjab, or the magical, ruthless power hitting by Andre Russell for the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR), the performance of the players from the island country has been the one which people have looked forward to.
Captains of almost all the franchises have been forced to make special plans for the big hitting West Indian batsmen.
Chris Gayle
The 39-year-old Jamaican just never fails to perform. Coming after what can only be called a breathtaking and hard-hitting batting performance against England in the ODI series back home, Gayle has certainly provided many opportunities to the Kings XI fans to perform 'bhangra'. He has scored 227 runs, which include 30 fours and 26 sixes, in the eight matches he has played so far in IPL 2019 at an average of 50.28. His strike rate of 155.06 in this edition of the IPL has also been a notch higher than his overall IPL strike rate of 151.06.
Considered as one of the greats in T20 cricket, Gayle, as usual, has created fear in the minds of the opponent bowlers. His batting at the top of the order is crucial for Punjab to secure win and, the very fact that he has been able to deliver on most of the occasions in the ongoing IPL, has resulted in the much improved performance by the KXIP, a fact evident with their fourth-place standing in the points table.
Andre Russell
If there's a batsman in the ongoing IPL whom every franchise fears, it is Russell. The big attacking all-rounder from the Caribbean is one of the most sought-after talents at the IPL and he has proved his credentials yet again with masterful batting and bowling performances in the ongoing 2019 edition. He single-handedly has won the games for KKR and has been treat to watch.
In the eight matches he has played so far for the Kolhata Knight Riders, Russell has amassed 377 runs at an unbelievable strike rate of 220.86. He has hit 23 fours and 39 sixes, a thing which teams fear. Apart from those breath-taking numbers with the bat, the 30-year-old has taken seven wickets and has provided a substantial proof of his famed abilities as an impactful all-rounder.
Kieron Pollard
Pollard, popularly known as 'Polly' in the Mumbai Indians camp, has surely not been able to perform as brilliantly as his other fellow countrymen in the ongoing IPL. However, his ability to tonk the ball hard, bowl those crucial death overs and take wickets and field exceptionally is something which is just consistent like the previous editions. Despite his bowling being on a wane, the big Trinidadian has been a trump card for the Mumbai Indians.
In the nine matches he has played so far for Mumbai, Pollard has scored 185 runs at a strike rate of 177.88, a thing common to most West Indians.
Apart from these three players, 2016 World T20 hero Carlos Braithwate and Sunil Narine have also performed reasonably well and have made a strong case to be there in the World Cup squad.
Only 40 days are left for the showpiece event and the form of the most sought-after T20 players from the Caribbean islands could easily help Windies becoming a dark horse in the prestigious quadrennial event to be held in England, which they have won twice but back in 1975 and 1979.
(Aakash Kumar can be contacted at aakash.k@ians.in)

--IANS aak/in