That Chris Gayle is a maverick entertainer is a known fact. He embodies the Caribbean spirit of living-work hard and party harder. The left-handed opener rewrote record books on Friday as he became the first man to pummel a thousand T20 sixes but his 99 went in vain against Rajasthan Royals in a crucial Indian Premier League (IPL) clash in UAE.
The Jamaican, who calls himself the ‘Universe Boss’, has been instrumental in reviving Kings XI Punjab’s campaign in IPL 2020.
After making a delayed entry into the competition, Gayle has been in tremendous form this season. Ever since his entry Kings XI Punjab have been a completely different side as the ‘Universe Boss’ has powered the team to five consecutive win, which has catapulted the team from the bottom of the table to become a strong contender for a place in the play-offs.
The 41-year-old has showcased that age is just a number and its the belief in one’s ability that matters in this year’s IPL, having registered scored of 53, 24, 29, 20, 51 and 99. His efforts have helped Kings XI revive their campaign and pose a challenge for the playoffs.
What has stood out for most of the tournament is how Gayle has not shied away from running hard between the wickets, something we did not see too much of in the IPL last year or for West Indies.
He has had his fitness issues and even when he didn’t take the quick runs, he could hit the ball miles. But with this improved level of fitness, he has looked fresh in this tournament.
Chris Gayle and records
That Gayle is almost synonymous with creating records in IPL is a given. He created history once again on Friday as he became the first player to hit 1,000 sixes in T20 Cricket. The 41-year-old smashed a brilliant 63-ball 99 for Kings XI Punjab.
The Jamaican’s total of T20 sixes is over 300 more than second-placed Kieron Pollard, who has hit 690 sixes to date and over 500 more than third-place Brendon McCullum, who has struck 485. Pollard plays for Mumbai Indians while McCullum is the head coach of Kolkata Knight Riders.
Apart from the sixes record, Gayle is comfortably the highest run-scorer in T20 cricket, having amassed more than 13,000 runs.
Gayle, who has been instrumental in reviving King’s XI Punjab’s campaign in IPL 2020, was fined 10 percent of his match fee by the IPL officials for throwing his bat after England pacer Jofra Archer dismissed him one short of a century.
The normally unflappable Gayle flung his bat in a rage after he dragged an Archer delivery onto his stumps. Gayle was in a rollicking mood on Friday and his 99 off 63 balls was the cornerstone of KXIP’s 185 for four wickets against Rajasthan Royals.
— Jofra Archer (@JofraArcher) October 30, 2020
Chris Gayle and KXIP
For KXIP, Gayle’s return has served as a tonic they badly needed to rejuvenate their faltering season. One of the issues ailing the Kings XI was their middle order either not building on strong starts or not being able to close out chases. By incorporating Gayle at No. 3 – something he had done only five times in 396 T20 innings earlier – they have added both experiences to their line-up and fear in the oppositions’ minds.
What it has ensured is once their opening stand is broken, the Kings XI don’t slide and also sustain – if not increase – their scoring rate.
Indeed, with Gayle in such a form, KXIP look like the team to beat in current form, it has not exactly been a one-man show. The change of fortune with Gayle in the side is more coincidence than causation but the impact is unmissable.
Having the world’s best T20 batsman hungry for success, even at 41 years of age, has been a key part of Punjab’s winning run. And now Rahul and Co will want that to continue as a place in the playoffs – which seemed improbable not too long ago – seems imminent now.