SHARJAH, United Arab Emirates – Veteran T20 superstar, Chris Gayle says he is open to playing any role in the batting order for Kings XI Punjab in the ongoing Indian Premier League.
The 41-year-old, who has scored the bulk of his 13 000 plus runs in T20s in the opening slot, has struggled to break into the side this season due to success of the opening pair of KL Rahul and Mayank Agarwal.
In his first match of the season on Thursday, however, Gayle struck 53 off 45 deliveries batting at number three, helping Kings XI to their second win of the season – an eight-wicket verdict over Royal Challengers Bangalore.
“It was a good innings. My first innings in IPL [this season],” said the left-hander who is the record-holder for runs in T20s with 13 349.
“The team asked me to do a job [at three] and I delivered. It wasn’t an issue. The openers have been really batting well right throughout the tournament so we didn’t want to trouble that [partnership].
“I accepted the job, delivered tonight and I’m thankful everybody got the chance to see a bit of Chris but the win was more so important for the team.”
Gayle has been one of the most dominant batsmen in the IPL’s history with 4537 runs, six hundreds and an average of 41, leaving him eighth on the all-time list of tournament run-scorers.
After several successful seasons at RCB, Gayle was released and picked up by Kings XI and last season showed he had lost little of his touch in gathering 490 runs at an average of 40, along with four fifties.
However, with captain Rahul amassing 448 runs and Agarwal, 382, there has been no room for the charismatic Jamaican but he said the time on the sidelines had done him well.
“I thought it was important to keep fit. To be honest, I didn’t want to be on the bench but I was enjoying it. It kind of helped,” Gayle explained.
“Apart from the sickness, I was beginning to get more fitter – get the six-pack going, the beach body going. I’ll keep on doing work and hopefully we’ll win the next game.”
Kings XI have struggled this season, however, and currently lie bottom of the eight-team standings on four points from just two wins in eight outings.
Meanwhile, India batting great, Sachin Tendulkar, expressed surprise at the decision taken by Kings XI Punjab to leave Gayle on the bench for so long.
“Good to see @henrygayle back and scoring a wonderful 53. Wonder what @lionsdenkxip were thinking by leaving him out all this while,” Tendulkar said via social media platform Twitter.
Gayle was expected to have been included in the line-up in the previous week but was hospitalised after experiencing a stomach illness. There has been little information regarding why the player was kept out the line-up at the start of the season and for so many games subsequent. KXIP will next play Mumbai Indians on Sunday, where he is expected to feature again. (CMC)