“The Universe Boss is still here and still alive.”
Chris Gayle, the self-proclaimed ‘Boss’, returned to form with a blistering 38-ball 77, studded with seven sixes, to guide Royal Challengers Bangalore to a morale-boosting 21-run win over Gujarat Lions in the 20th match of Indian Premier League in Rajkot on Tuesday (April 18) night.
Gayle, who also became the first batsman to reach the 10,000-run landmark in T20s, said a change of stance made the difference, and this knock could not have come at a better time. “I like that name (Universe Boss). He’s back. Even better to be back in the field. Fans want to watch Chris Gayle, it’s been fantastic,” he said after being named the man of the match.
“It all depends on how you feel, the determination is important. It’s a special occasion to reach 10,000 runs. A lot of guys spoke to me about my stance. Even Shaun Pollock spoke to me about my stance. You’re never too old to learn. People still looking out for Chris Gayle.”
Daniel Vettori, the head coach, was all praise for Gayle, who made sure that the team didn’t miss AB de Villiers, sitting the game out due to a recurring back injury. “I think everyone knows that Chris is at his most powerful and strongest on these good wickets and can take any bowling attack down and we’ve had to I suppose go through the wringer,” Vettori said in the post-match conference.
Having already lost KL Rahul for the entire tournament, Bangalore went into this game without the services of Samuel Badree, the hat-trick man, and Tymal Mills, both also battling injury concerns. “To have the likes of Chris, Travis (Head), Adam (Milne), and Shane (Watson) to call on in these situations makes a huge difference,” said Vettori. “When we went to the auction process, we wanted to increase our bench strength and fortunately today it’s come through for us.”
Bangalore next play on April 23 at the Eden Gardens against Kolkata Knight Riders. “Fortunately we don’t play till the 23rd, so that allows us to have a bit of a recovery time,” said Vettori. “We’re hopeful that AB is fit for that. We’re hopeful that Samuel’s fit for that, we’re hopeful that Tymal’s fit for that.
“They do have an extended period of time before we play again, so we’re reasonably confident that they’ll be available to play but it’s good that Chris and Travis stood up today. It means we have more selection dilemmas.”
While the batsmen did their job to help the side post a massive 213 for 2, it was Yuzvendra Chahal’s 3 for 31 that made early inroads to restrict Gujarat to 192 for 7. The coach showered accolades on the leggie. “I’ve been lucky enough to work with Yuzi for the last four years and also to play against him when he was at Mumbai Indians,” remarked Vettori. “The way he bowled in the Champions League final four years ago was the reason we wanted to get him to RCB.
“He’s one of those guys who is competitive, coupled with a lot of skill. He’s really positive, he’s confident about what he’s doing and he’s also really skilful. Anyone who can succeed at the Chinnaswamy as a spin bowler, you know that there’s something special about them and we saw that again today with his performance.”
Suresh Raina, the Gujarat skipper, was worried about the spin department with Ravindra Jadeja, their frontline spinner, and Shivil Kaushik not performing to standards. “We played well, we batted well. 200 was chasable. More than 200 is difficult to chase,” he said. “Our bowling is giving away too many runs. They (bowlers) have to vary their pace, bowl slow. It’s a worry for us, the spin department.”