Gayle, Narine to face off in Big Bash
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - Less than three months ago, Chris Gayle and Sunil Narine danced to Gangnam Style in the middle of Colombo as the West Indies celebrated their victory in the World Twenty20 final.
But how things have quickly changed since the pair arrived for the Big Bash League to play for the Sydney Thunder and Sydney Sixers respectively.
Gayle, widely regarded as the best Twenty20 player in the world, has averaged just 13.8 in five matches with the bat, with Friday night's run-a-ball 28 his best effort yet.
Narine, the mystery spinner who was crowned the player of the IPL tournament earlier this year, has failed to take a wicket in four matches, all of which the Sixers have lost.
So how is it that two of the Windies' biggest stars in the World Twenty20 have become two of the BBL's dud buys?
The uber-cool Gayle remains as popular as ever, posing for photos more than an hour after Friday's five-wicket loss to Brisbane Heat.
He accepts both he and Narine have done it tough in Australia. But he's confident a big performance from the pair is just around the corner, perhaps starting as early as tonight's Sydney derby at ANZ Stadium in what will double as Narine's farewell from the Sixers.
"I might have to send him home on a losing note," Gayle said of Narine, before he broke into one of his trademark cackles. Pressed on his lean run, which starred in Bangladesh after the World Twenty20, and continued in the BBL, Gayle said: "The determination is there for me to score runs. If I do get a start I'll try to capitalise and get that score. I try not to beat myself up about it too much.
"I accept in life you'll have your ups and downs. It's been one of those downs now for quite some time for me in cricket, but I've been there before, it's nothing new, it's part of life, you just have to rebound when times get tough.
"For (Narine), he did well in the World Twenty20s for us, and he hasn't had the greatest (BBL) season he wanted.
"But he's a spinner, it's a learning process, and even though he's played a lot of cricket around the world now, he's young and hopefully knows how to rebound from this sort of position."
Narine gradually dropped off to the point that Sunday's 0-39 against Hobart became his worst effort to date.
Gripping the ball between his middle and ring finger, Narine, like Gayle, said his little joy had not been a result of a lack of effort.
"I've just been a bit unlucky and need to continue what I'm doing, and the wickets will come eventually," Narine said. "In cricket you go through periods like this and it's how you bounce back."
Sixers skipper Brad Haddin said Narine was "world class", and it was unfortunate his batsmen had not churned out big enough totals for all the bowlers to defend.
"He's very hard to read, and with spinners like that you need to give them a total because it's hard to force the issue with them," he said.
Even Gayle still has rival players quivering in their boots, with Brisbane skipper James Hopes relieved the left-hander didn't rediscover his form on Friday night.
"But I'm sure he'll do it at some stage the last three games," Hopes said.