Talking about Gayle's form, it was not magnificent as Indian Premier League (IPL) 2016 started © Getty Images
Talking about Chris Gayle’s form, it was not as magnificent as expected in the T20 World Cup as well as in early stages of IPL © Getty Images

Christopher Henry Gayle, a name that evokes countless memories of entertainment, match-winning knocks, huge sixes in one’s mind. West Indies, one of the ‘coolest’ sides in world cricket, have not had a smooth run for the past few years. Internal problems between West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) and players were exposed to the world. WICB roped in younger, inexperienced players to avoid more controversies but it only resulted in degrading the standard of West Indies cricket a few times. While Gayle had been in and out of form, it is not only him who was to be blamed for that. READ: West Indies omit Chris Gayle, Darren Sammy and Dwayne Bravo for triangular series

Talking about Gayle’s form, it was not magnificent in the early stage Indian Premier League (IPL) 2016. Rather, people could find more reasons to question his inclusion in the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) playing eleven, given the trio—Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers and Shane Watson—were doing the job for the team. Even KL Rahul, for that matter, fit in well in the high-profile switch that Kohli did, with bringing him in place of Gayle while the latter was away for the birth of his first child.

Before flying off for Blush’s birth, Gayle got out for single digit scores twice. Starting off with a solitary run in his first game, all Gayle could do was to follow it up with a duck in the next. It was not like he had done excellently in the recently-concluded ICC World T20 2016 as well, as he could not maintain consistency after the splendid century against England. But, still, Kohli let him open.

After returning to India for the residual of the matches, Gayle kept making similar appearances of single digit scores. In the three consecutive games he played after his return, he scored 7, 5 and 6 respectively (which is not something a captain would like his opener to do). Kohli dropped him in two matches; yes, but just two. It was more like letting the giant take his own time to restore his powers and comeback with a bang!

To say, Kohli himself is in a form that is nearly impossible to match up to. Well, Gayle had his time as well, but inconsistency hit him and hit him bad. However, a player as potent as the self-proclaimed ‘Universe Boss’ is, he knows how to bounce back. And he did. In his own ‘In your face, critics’ style.

On air, he claimed that being the Universe Boss and being so successful in the IPL, Gayle said he “deserved 10 such failures” because he knows he has something special in store.

Once regarded as the match-winner for Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB), it must have hurt the 6-feet-something man to watch Kohli and de Villiers doing wonders from the dug-out. He had to get back to his own form, while the fans and the skipper had so much faith in him.

That Gayle was in a much better touch was evident from his first significant knock in the match against Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) at Eden Gardens. Though the Kohli-de Villiers duo later stole most of the limelight, it was Gayle who paved the way for the innings that was to come. The Caribbean marauder scored 49 off 31 deliveries, missing out on his first half-century of the season for a solitary run.

But ‘Gayle-Storm’ was yet to hit IPL 9. The big-match player knew RCB needed to win every game from their on, including the next at home against Kings XI Punjab (KXIP). He was determined. During RCB’s fielding in the first innings of the game, Gayle was on air with the commentators. A poll revealed that over 80 per cent of the people believed Gayle would fire that night. He was intimated about the fact. Motivations come in many forms; this must have been one of them.

Bangalore rejoiced for many reasons that night. Kohli, with an injured finger has created history, scoring the first-ever century in a 15-over match. But they had another reason—their hero from beyond borders, the guy who had become a localite, Chris Gayle was back. It was a belligerent 32-ball 73 and the crowd gave standing ovation for the entertainment provided by Gayle, who was then lifting up his bat and walking out of the ground with sheer pleasure inside.

Was it only the player’s intent to come back? But would that have worked if not provided with a chance? The answer has to be ‘no’ on logical grounds. Kohli put his faith on the player he knew had that thing within. He gave him chances to shine. As for WICB, they did not feel the need to include Gayle in the squad for the forth-coming tri-series between South Africa, Australia and West Indies. That too, after the 73-run innings.

(Paulami Chakraborty, a singer, dancer, artist, and photographer, loves the madness of cricket and writes about the game. She can be followed on Twitter at @Polotwitts)