That Chris Gayle is the most exciting batsman to have ever played in IPL would be an understatement. Look at his number of records and feats: He holds the record for highest score by a batsman in IPL and all T20 cricket – 175* off 66 balls against Pune Warriors in 2013. He has scored the most sixes in IPL – 251. He holds the record for most sixes in an inning – 17 vs Pune Warriors India. He has scored the most sixes in a season – 59 sixes in 201. He holds the record for most centuries – 5. He holds the record for most runs scored in an over – 37 against Kings XI Punjab. And there are several more.
And to think of the fact that the gentle giant from the Caribbean did not have a great start to IPL in the first couple of years playing for Kolkata Knight Riders before he was signed by Royal Challengers Bengaluru in 2011. In his first outing for RCB against his former franchise Kolkata Knight Riders, Gayle scored an unbeaten 102 off 55 balls and helped Royal Challengers Bengaluru chase down the target of 171 comfortably. A Couple of weeks later, Gayle blasted his way to another century against the depleted bowling attack of Kings XI Punjab. His 107 came off 49 balls included 10 fours and 9 towering sixes. In the following game against Kochi Tuskers Kerala, Gayle tormented the young left arm bowler Prasanth Parameswaran by scoring 37 runs in an over which is a record. He smashed 4 sixes and 3 boundaries in a 7 ball over.
Up next was Rajasthan Royals. While chasing a moderate 146, Royal Challengers Bengaluru got off to a flying start and Gayle’s unbeaten 70 off 44 deliveries helped RCB reach the target in just 17 overs. In an all-important second qualifying final, Gayle’s delightful innings of 89 off 47 balls ensured Royal Challengers Bengaluru set a mounting task to Mumbai Indians in a high pressure game. Mumbai Indians choked under pressure and lost the match by 43 runs. However, Chris Gayle along with the in-form AB De Villiers and Virat Kohli failed to make a valiant contribution in the crucial final and Royal Challengers Bengaluru had to once again settle with the runners-up trophy. Gayle ended the memorable season with 608 runs in 12 innings at an average of 67.56. He scored at a strike rate of 183.13 which was a treat to watch. Gayle won the orange cap for scoring most runs in the season.
If 2011 IPL was fabulous then 2012 was unreal as Gayle retained his orange cap with 733 runs in 14 innings. He scored at a strike rate of 160.75 and averaged 61.08. Unlike 2011, Gayle failed to score in his first game against Kolkata Knight Riders but was destructive in the following games.
After getting out for naught against Chennai Super Kings in the final of last year’s IPL, Chris Gayle sated his fury with a 35 balls 68 against Chennai Super Kings. He then clobbered Pune Warriors in a high scoring game with 81 off 48 balls as Royal Challengers Bengaluru won the match off the final ball. Chris Gayle continued his wrath of scoring runs against Kings XI Punjab as he paved his way to another successful run chase with a 56 ball 87 which included 8 fours and 4 sixes. After an impressive streak of successful chases, Gayle failed to chase down 191 against the Kolkata Knight Riders after staying at the crease till the end. RCB lost by 47 runs and Gayle got out on the final delivery for 86 off 58 balls. Gayle looked helpless as nothing much came from the other end.
Gayle had 7 fifty plus scores but a marathon knock was due. In a game against Delhi Daredevils, he scored an unbeaten 128 off 62 balls which helped Royal Challengers Bengaluru post a mammoth 215 for the loss of one wicket. His innings comprised of 13 sixes. RCB won the match by 21 runs.
As the years progressed, Gayle became the most feared batsman and was a nightmare for any opponent. He is by far the greatest player to play T20 cricket with his monstrous ability to hit the ball effortlessly out of the park and when he connects, there is no ground that is bigger for this man.
In 2013, he missed the third consecutive Orange cap to Michael Hussey by just few runs. It was yet another successful season for Chris Gayle as he scored 708 runs at an average of 59.00. In one of the games against Pune Warriors, Chris Gayle achieved an unimaginable feat. He went past the highest score in the history of T20 cricket as he scored an unbeaten 175 off 66 balls at a strike rate of 265.15. Gayle smashed 17 sixes and was in no mood to spare the bowlers. Royal Challengers Bengaluru posted a record breaking 263 for 5 in stipulated overs and his stupendous knock will be long remembered.
After setting up high standards by scoring 2049 runs in 3 seasons at an average of 62.09, Chris Gayle hasn’t been as consistent as he was expected to be. In 2015, he missed out on a hundred in the first game when he was run out on 96 against Kolkata Knight Riders. After having a quiet IPL, Gayle finally outburst with 117 off 57 balls against Kings XI Punjab and helped Royal Challengers Bengaluru post another 200 plus score.
The previous IPL was by far the worst as he managed to score just 227 runs in 10 games at an average off 22.70. The giant man from the Caribbean will be itching to score big runs as he has been once again retained by Royal Challengers Bengaluru. There isn’t an ounce of doubt that Gayle is by far the greatest T20 player the game has ever seen. He is a clean striker of the cricket ball and hits the ball miles. Gayle has so far scored 3426 runs in overall IPL at an average of 43.36. His ability to hit sixes is incredible and the numbers are a proof. He has scored 251 sixes and leads the chart by a distance.
Gayle is exciting on the field and ensures that the crowd is always behind his team. He is a safe fielder and bowls useful off-spin if and when needed. His celebrations on the field with the teammates have become popular. He is surely a people’s choice.
(Article by MKM Faiyaz Ahmed)
Images: www.royalchallengers.com, IPL
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