Captains of teams playing Royal Challengers Bangalore in the Pepsi Indian Premier League 2013 always face questions on the plans they have for Chris Gayle before the match. Whatever the answer is, it has little or no significance during the match if Gayle is in one of his moods. Indeed, if Gayle gets going, most opponents have no answers whatsoever.
Gayle started the tournament with an unbeaten 92, but between that and the 85 not out on Thursday (April 11) against Kolkata Knight Riders, he recorded 1 and 13 in back-to-back games against Sunrisers Hyderabad. “In the first game, I got a good start but in the second and third games, I didn’t get it right,” admitted Gayle. “But importantly for us, a particular batsman got runs for us in those two games – captain Virat (Kohli). Unfortunately, he got out early in this game. (But) AB (de Villiers) was there with me to ensure that we cross the line.”
Gayle’s runs, scored in just 50 balls, ensured Bangalore went past Kolkata’s total of 154 for 8 with 15 balls to spare, but it was the Bangalore bowling that did the spadework for the win. “They bowled wonderfully at the death,” said Gayle. “With the start Kolkata got, they looked like getting to 170-180. But we pulled them back. We are happy with the overall performance of the team. Hopefully we can continue in the next games.”
More than anyone else in present-day cricket, Gayle is a batsman as well as an entertainer, and the man from Jamaica is happy to perform both roles. “Whenever I hit the ball, I hope it clears the boundary. That is the key,” he explained. “When it gets hit properly, it’s gone. I am here to play cricket and entertain the crowd. Whenever I get a chance to do it, I will try to make the most out of it.
“I was trying to push them (fielders) back as early as possible (against Kolkata) and put the bowlers under a bit of pressure. One thing that was not going right in the last couple of games was my balance. Today the balance was absolutely superb out there. I was on to the short ball as quickly as possible, as with the full toss and slower delivery.”
Gayle’s importance to Bangalore is immense, and though Bangalore haven’t yet won the IPL trophy, with Gayle in the mix, they must always count as one of the favourites. In fact, there have been times when, correctly or otherwise, Bangalore have been referred to as a one-man team.
“Because I have scored a quite a good amount of runs, it looks like whenever I don’t score the team doesn’t do well,” pointed out Gayle. “But we have superb international stars and young Indian players who are capable of winning games. I have been going through a bad patch in the last couple of months in my career. I don’t mind if Virat (Kohli) keeps the Orange Cap. AB has come out with some wonderful efforts for us. What I want is a trophy.”
In both IPL IV and IPL V, Gayle won the Orange Cap – something he will be in contention for in IPL VI as well, but Gayle would rather focus on his job than worry about the records. “I have tasted success in the last two years of IPL,” said Gayle. “But it’s all about winning trophies and my objective is to try and give the team a good start.”