Chris Gayle after winning  T20 World Cup 2016 © Getty Images
Chris Gayle after winning T20 World Cup 2016 © Getty Images

Chris Gayle is clearly one of the most feared batsmen in international circuit. When he gets going he makes life miserable for bowlers, which has been the reason Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) has shown so much faith in the West Indian opener(who refers to himself as Universe Boss on social media. At the end of IPL 2016 he showed everyone the reason why they cannot rule him out of the Tournament. He played a few match-winning innings towards the end of IPL 9. He was struggling in the initial stages of the Tournament with 19 runs in 5 matches. He failed to take his score in double-digits. The drought of runs began even before IPL. But he came back and came back fiercely, helping RCB reach the final. ALSO READ: Was Chris Gayle’s form worth the wait?

The only innings he played worth mentioning in T20 World Cup 2016 was against England in the first match of the tournament. He scored a century to take West Indies home comfortably chasing a score of 180-odd runs. Unfortunately, his struggle at the crease started after that.  He rarely had any impact in the game with the bat. ALSO READ: Chris Gayle, West Indies Cricket Board and more

He came back to the form in must win game against Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR). RCB needed a good platform in order to chase down a total of 184 at Eden Gardens. It was not an easy task and RCB needed to keep wickets intact early in the innings. Gayle rose to the occasion and scored 49 off just 31 balls to put RCB right on track. That mini-storm announced the presence of Gayle in the Tournament. However, this was not his best effort: there was more to follow.

Gayle’s fans all around the world were ecstatic about this innings as they knew the Gayle-storm has paused but not passed. RCB’s next fixture was against Kings XI Punjab at their homeground, Bangalore. There was a slight delay in the proceedings of the match due to rain which evolved into a downpour shortly. RCB’s chances of reaching the IPL Final were at stake if the match gout washed out. Thankfully, rain stopped, covers were removed, 5 overs were deducted, but RCB breathed a sigh of relief that the match was happening at all.

Clouds were still hovering around Chinnaswamy stadium. Gayle and Virat Kohli came out to bat. They needed to maintain a healthy run-rate as the chances of another rain were persistent. They needed to score at a brisk rate to give them an advantage if Duckworth-Lewis-Stern (DLS) method comes into play. Gayle started off with 4 dots, playing Sandeep Sharma with caution. But it will be metaphorically accurate to say “It was the silence before the storm” .

Gayle soon returned to his usual self and started hitting the ball in the most distant places of the ground. The crowd at Chinnaswamy got exactly what they wished for. It was a full-fledged all out attack from the West Indies opener. His intentions were to hit every ball for a boundary. He is a big man and does not believe in taking single, even Kohli realized that and stopped pushing hard for twos. He scored 73 off 32 deliveries, sharing a 147 run-stand with Kohli.

They were on a pedestal against KXIP with 147 for 1 in 11 overs. At one point he made Kohli look inferior to him. Even Kohli was in full flow and a battle of sixes started between the two openers. Bowlers became spectators as they had no clue what to do against this deadly duo. Kohli was in splendid form right through the Tournament and it was very tough to overshadow him, but it was a task only Gayle could accomplish.

After that he went through a rough patch again. He got out for 1 against Delhi Daredevils (DD) and 9 against Gujarat Lions (GL) in Qualifier 1. Critics came out, shunning him for his poor performances in later stages of tournaments. He chose to respond, and picked out Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) in the 2016 final. RCB were under pressure chasing 209. All eyes were on Gayle to provide a lightning start to the innings; and that was exactly what he did. He took on the best bowling attack in the tournament and hammered them. He scored 76 off 38 deliveries with the help of 8 maximums.

At one point it seemed like the final was already in RCB’s bag. But unfortunately he got out in the 11th over. The scorecard read 114 for 1 in 10.3 overs, leaving RCB to score 93 from 57 balls. The target looked achievable with 9 wickets in hand and AB de Villiers walking in to join Kohli in the middle. But RCB lost wickets in quick succession. They fell short of 8 runs towards in the end. SRH skipper David Warner acknowledged that Gayle’s wicket was turning point of the match.

Gayle is surely a West Indies legend and it is a shame that he was not included in the squad for tri-series against Australia and South Africa. It is quite unfortunate for him, his fans and West Indies that WICB did not include him in the squad over petty arguments.

(Arun Rawal, a reporter with CricketCountry, is a daydreamer, movie buff, and cricket fanatic. He could not play cricket, so did the next best thing, writing for it. He loves to play the flick shot over square leg, and believes Sachin Tendulkar is God. His twitter handle is @ArunRawal93)