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Opening acts,Gayle & Watson,set to fashion end result

Out there in the middle,surrounded by the opposition and then the crowds,Chris Gayle always seems to be in a terrific hurry.

Out there in the middle,surrounded by the opposition and then the crowds,Chris Gayle always seems to be in a terrific hurry. But minutes before he walks in to bat,a scenario that repeats itself at the start of every practice session as well,he is slow. Awfully so.

Before the nets session on Thursday afternoon,long after the rest of the squad had started bowling,batting or fielding,Gayle sat by the sidelines,staring at his kitbag. Very slowly,he took out his supporter-brief and wore it over his trackpants. Like Superman.

Then,he tightened his shoe laces in double knots,put on his pads,wore his thigh pads and adjusted his elbow guard. The bandana followed,taking its own sweet time to be adjusted on his scalp. The helmet should have completed the routine,but finding the right pair of gloves kickstarted a process that ended with him weighing,and then finally choosing,the best of the five bats he wanted to use at the nets. Fifteen minutes into his dressing up,Gayle walked in to bat.

In completely uncharacteristic silence,the Jamaican left-hander walked in to bat. Others around him fooled about,but not Gayle. The focus was on what was going to unfold over the next hour or so. The ‘Gangnam Style’ moves,apparently,is reserved only for tense situations on the field.

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Or maybe he was just in a no-nonsense mood after his alleged room hosting skills with three British women made more news than he would have liked it to. All said and done,it was Gayle at his intense best. Something the Aussies will look to put to an end faster than the elaborate preparations he undergoes before every batting session.

So,a day before the second and most eagerly anticipated semi-final between West Indies and Australia,the big talking point — for all the right and wrong reasons — in both camps was Chris Gayle. While the West Indians were quick to play down the hotel room incident,Australia skipper George Bailey was more than happy to indulge in some Gayle talk.

“If he has an outstanding game,then he will make it very difficult for us,” said Bailey. The Aussies are of course desperate to not just repeat their 2010 World T20 feat,where they made it to the final,but also go one step further. And to help them do just that,Bailey & Co are relying heavily on their man of the hour,Shane Watson. “But we can come back through Watson,” Bailey reiterated when asked once again about Gayle.

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The Australian has won four Man of the Matches awards on the trot,leading the run-charts with 242 runs. Also,Watson is the joint highest wicket taker in the tournament,with 11 wickets to his credit. And with this semi-final being a repeat of an earlier group game,both teams have some unfinished business to complete.

In a thrilling encounter,Watson scored a quickfire 24-ball 41,just a tad short of Gayle’s first innings 54. And just as the match looked to be going down the wire (WI posted a target of 192) when rain interrupted play and awarded the Aussies the victory by D/L method.

First published on: 05-10-2012 at 01:32:45 am
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