Gayle, Gazi resume rivalry

Gladiators face Royals in race-to-final, BPL play-off today
Dhaka Gladiators’ new recruit Chris Gayle and Sylhet Royals’ off-spinner Sohag Gazi will resume their rivalry once again when the two teams clash with each other in the race-to-final qualifier of the Bangladesh Premier League on Friday. Gayle and Gazi recently faced off in a bilateral series when West Indies toured Bangladesh for two Test matches, three one-day internationals and one T20.
Gayle briefly started well after pounding Gazi for 18 runs in the opening over on the first day of the first Test. Gazi, however, bounced back exceedingly well to dismiss Gayle twice in the Tests and once in the ODIs to make him his ‘bunny’, a term often used to undermine an opposition player.
Gayle was unable to live up to his reputation as he struggled against the off-spinner and the marauding Jamaican was considered as a huge flop throughout the tour.
Gazi is once again expected to give Gayle a tough time like he did in the recent West Indies series and his team-mates at Sylhet Royals will bank on him to put pressure on Gayle, who is expected to open for the Gladiators.
‘I want to put him under pressure in the same manner as I did against him in the series,’ said Sohag.
‘I just don’t want him to come out of his shackles as that will allow him to set terms of the game,’ he added.
To bolster the strength of their batting at the upper order, Gladiators are flying in Gayle and another gem in T20 cricket, Kieron Pollard.
The two players were expected to reach Dhaka on a Singapore Airlines flight at 8:50pm on Thursday.
Skipper Mashrafee bin Murtaza is expecting the duo to shine in the same manner as their overseas players Shahid Afridi and Saeed Ajmal did in the last edition.
‘I think they will add strength to the team,’ said Mashrafee.
‘Definitely it’s a big match as a win will ensure a spot in the final and big players like them rise up on this sort of occasion,’ said Mashrafee.
‘I expect a similar feat from the duo as we had received from Afridi and Ajmal in the last edition,’ said Mashrafee.
‘But to win the match others will have to fulfil their duty and I expect that as everyone is on a good nick,’ he added.
Sylhet Royals coach Mohammad Salahuddin suggested his charges not to put too much emphasis on Gayle and Pollard as he feels Gladiators are a very strong team with or without the duo.
‘I don’t want to put extra emphasis on Gayle and Pollard as there are a lot of match winners in the Gladiators squad and we need to keep an eye on every player rather than any individual,’ said Salahuddin.
The winners of the race-to-final qualifier will go straight to the final, while the losers will have another opportunity to book a place in the final by beating the winners of the second eliminator, to be played between Chittagong Kings and Duronto Rajshahi on Saturday.
Both the teams won against each other in the group phase as the Royals defeated the Gladiators by seven wickets in Khulna while the Gladiators took their revenge in Chittagong when they defeated them by 31 runs.

-With New Age input

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