‘How can I be nervous?’: Gayle back in business with 53 as Punjab down Kohli’s Bangalore
GROS ISLET, SAINT LUCIA – SEPTEMBER 27: In this handout image provided by CPL T20, Chris Gayle of Jamaica Tallawahs looks on during the Hero Caribbean Premier League match between St Lucia Zouks and Jamaica Tallawahs at Daren Sammy National Cricket Stadium on September 27, 2019 in Gros Islet, Saint Lucia. (Photo by Ashley Allen – CPL T20/Getty Images)
Chris Gayle smashed 53 in his first outing this Indian Premier League season to give Kings XI Punjab their second win of the virus-hit Twenty20 tournament on Thursday.
The explosive West Indies batsman walked in at number three to put on a key 93-run partnership with skipper KL Rahul, who made an unbeaten 61, as Punjab chased down 172 to beat Royal Challengers Bangalore by eight wickets in Sharjah.
The match witnessed late drama with Punjab, needing two for victory, scored just one run and lost Gayle to a run out on the fifth ball before Nicholas Pooran hit the winning six on the last ball off leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal.
Gayle, the 41-year-old self-styled “Universe Boss” who recently recovered from a stomach bug, smashed five sixes in his 45-ball knock to announce his arrival in the United Arab Emirates.
“It is the Universe Boss batting, how can I be nervous?” the left-handed said after the win.
“I might give you a heart attack, I thought I had it in the bag but stranger things have happened in cricket.
“It was a very sticky surface, very slow, but it was better batting second. The team asked me to do a job at three and it wasn’t an issue (coming one down from his usual opening slot).”
The in-form Rahul consolidated his top spot in the IPL batting chart with 448 runs as the opener struck his fourth fifty — he has hit a hundred as well — of the season.
Rahul put on 78 with opening partner Mayank Agarwal, who made 45 off 25 deliveries before becoming Chahal’s 200th T20 victim.
Punjab though still languish at the bottom of the eight-team table with two wins from eight games in the Twenty20 tournament that was moved out of India due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“As a group, we have been disappointing. It can get frustrating. Our skills were good, but we didn’t capitalise on the big moments,” said Rahul.
“It becomes a habit – winning and not winning. There are ups and downs and this has been the roller-coaster. We wanted this win to get some confidence in the group.”
On Gayle’s first appearance after seven games, Rahul said, “He was training hard, he wanted be out on the park. It was a tough call to make and not make him play. It’s important to keep the lion hungry. Wherever he bats, he’s dangerous.”
Earlier Bangalore skipper Virat Kohli made 48 before Chris Morris’ late-order cameo propelled Bangalore to 171 for six after electing to bat first.
Mohammed Shami claimed two key wickets including Kohli and the in-form AB de Villiers, who was dropped down to six in the batting order, for two.
But the India paceman conceded 24 in the final over with Morris hitting three sixes to finish off the innings on a high with his unbeaten 25 off eight deliveries.