Over the years, the Indian Premier League has come to witness some wonderful big-hitters. Kieron Pollard, Dwayne Bravo, AB de Villiers and even Jos Buttler can tonk the ball a long way. But when it comes to the greatest big-hitting batsman to ever play T20 cricket, one name that automatically pops up in the mind is that of Chris Gayle.
The Universe Boss holds almost every T20 batting record that there is, and takes a special liking in the IPL. His 175 is still the highest individual score in an IPL and no one has hit more sixes than him. However, just because Gayle is a renowned hitter, doesn’t take away the sharp brain he possesses, reckons India great Sachin Tendulkar, who feels the explosive West Indies batsman is one of the smartest cricketers around. (IPL 2020 Full Coverage)
“When it comes to Gayle, people only talk about his big-hitting that everyone knows. Many guys don’t know one thing that Gayle is a very very smart player. He is a big-hitter no doubt, but he is a smart player and a clever guy,” Tendulkar said in a video uploaded on his social media.
“When he finds (a bowler) threatening, who could get him out, he is prepared to play even sometimes an over where an odd single is scored. Then he will target one or two bowlers. The other day, he targeted Tushar Deshpande and scored 26 runs off his over. So Gayle is a smart player. So, don’t think Gayle is going to go out at every ball, he doesn’t do that.
“He understands the surface, he reads the pace and the bounce of the surface and what the bowler is good at and when he realizes there is a bowler whom he can target, he goes all out after them and that would be the strategy throughout the tournament because that is what I have noticed throughout. He is a smart guy.”
Over the last three years, Gayle has developed a slight change in his batting. He sees off the initial period before shifting gears and unleashing a brutal attack on the bowlers. This has been the pattern in his batting ever since 2017, his last year with Royal Challengers Bangalore before Gayle moved to Kings XI Punjab the year later. This year too, KXIP were in the middle of a six-match losing streak which ended the moment Gayle came into the Playing XI. This is exactly the kind of danger Tendulkar is referring to.
“Well, he has brought a lot of energy in the team and there are certain players with the way they play, their style, the statement they make with the hard-hitting shots. It has a positive impact on the team and that is exactly what has happened. Although I know KL Rahul and Mayank Agarwal have been batting well. Nicholas Pooran is another dangerous guy and the addition of Chris Gayle makes a dangerous batting line-up,” Tendulkar said.
“So, it’s not over yet. You never know, in this format, you only need the momentum to take you forward and Gayle has managed to do that for the team and with the other guys in the team, it’s not over yet for Kings XI Punjab. The energy that the dressing room brings after the victories, three back to back victories is infectious.”