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Chris Gayle: Respect the name


Chris_Gayle_IPL_Kings_XI_Punjab_West_Indies_CricketIt’s 2013. Chris Gayle has just played the greatest T20 knock ever. The world is stunned at the way this man has made a mockery of a bowling attack, of the very concept of bowling, with his majestic knock of 175 runs from just 66 balls.

It has been five years and the record still stands, unbreakable. And if you compare the Gayle of both seasons, he is no longer a one man show, like those days. This is a more mature Gayle who knows which bowlers to attack. If anything, this 38-year-old is an improved runner between the wickets.

The name Chris Gayle carries a significant weight. His moniker, Universe Boss, echoes from the Caribbean Islands to the Indian subcontinent and beyond. He’s a power hitter but not in the vein of Sir Vivian Richards. He’s a legendary left hander but not one with the grace of Brian Lara. Gayle has created a sensational reputation in the cricketing world simply for his power hitting.

Harsha Bhogle once said of Gayle, “6 and 4 seems to have become the new binary code for this man.” Such has been Gayle’s stature that watching him hit a six is as normal a phenomenon as watching a bird in the sky.

Anyone who says he’s only a T20 legend is a fool. He boasts two triple centuries in Test matches, a feat only achieved by the great Sir Don Bradman, Lara and Virender Sehwag. In 2015, he became the first ever batsman to score a double century in a World Cup game.

Not many expected Gayle to explode this year. He had a poor season with RCB last year, wasn’t retained by the team, was ignored for PSL and surprisingly went unsold in the first two rounds of the IPL Auction. He didn’t feature in the starting XI for Kings XI Punjab’s first couple of games. Many expected him to take guard at the Chinnaswamy stadium against his former team but he wasn’t included.

Skipper Ravichandran Ashwin’s decision to bring in Gayle against CSK turned out to be a masterstroke as he slammed a quick-fire half century. However, it was his innings against SunRisers Hyderabad which told the world that the beast had woken up. He took what was probably the best bowling attack of this year’s IPL to the cleaners, smashing an unbeaten century. He slammed four consecutive sixes against the No.1 T20 bowler Rashid Khan. It was a delight to watch the Universe Boss alive and roaring. 11 sixes in the innings showcase the firepower of that astounding knock. The destruction continued against KKR, where he hit another half century. He might have gone on if rain hadn’t shortened the game.

At the time of writing, the left hander has 288 sixes to his name in the Indian Premier League alone; no other batsman has even 200 sixes till date. He is amongst the top 10 batsmen in terms of runs scored in the IPL. He was the first player in the history of the IPL to win the Orange Cap twice. He missed a hat-trick of Orange Caps as Michael Hussey pipped him by just 25 runs in 2013.

To think that this man failed to find any takers in the auction for two rounds is just unbelievable. When you consider the fact that Jaydev Unadkat went for ₹11.5 crores based on his performance in a single season, there’s no doubt that other teams might be gutted for having missed out on Gayle in the auction. It is often said that you never write off a sportsman; the current Gayle phenomenon is a sublime proof of the same.

His batting performances are still writing new chapters of his legacy and I think he will continue hitting before he decides to hang up his boots after the World Cup next year. The Punjab franchise gave him a new lease of life in the IPL and Gayle has already proved to be worth it. Kings XI Punjab have never won the IPL title. Chris Gayle has never won the IPL title. Can both these truths be overturned this year? We shall see. But as of now, we must RESPECT THE NAME.


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