IPL 2016: From staunch rivals to good pals, Chris Gayle and Shane Watson have come a long way

Earlier this year, Indian Premier League (IPL) did what international cricket could not do. Fiercest of rivals on the field, West Indian batsman Chris Gayle and Shane Watson were brought together under one roof by the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) franchise during the IPL player auctions. The unthinkable was soon going to become a reality, as Gayle and Watson were soon going to play together for RCB in IPL 2016. ALSO READ: Royal Challengers Bangalore vs Sunrisers Hyderabad, IPL 2016, Final: Likely XI comparison.

For those unaware, Gayle and Watson had shared animosity for long. It began 2009, when during a Test at Perth, Watson’s celebration after dismissing Gayle earned him a reprimand from the ICC match referee. It did leave a bad taste as Gayle labelled Watson as ‘soft’ after the incident and the things only got intense between the two.

During the 2012 World T20 in Sri Lanka, the duo again engaged in a war-of-words and earlier this year, things got worse when Watson commented on Gayle’s controversial interview during the Big Bash League (BBL) season 2015-16, saying that the Jamaican’s behaviour was hardly a surprise.  But the ice melted when RCB played peacemaker by bringing both of them in the same squad. While Gayle was already a part, Watson was bought in the auctions ahead of IPL 2016. ALSO READ: IPL 2016: Royal Challengers Bangalore vs Sunrisers Hyderabad, road to the final.

Immediately after the auctions, both the cricketers had tweeted about their past animosity and hinted at a patch-up for RCB’s sake.

As the season started, RCB skipper Virat Kohli and ‘superman’ AB de Villiers grabbed all the spotlight with their scintillating batting, but Gayle — who struggled initially before finding his form back — and Watson — who silently kept going and soon emerged as a strong contender for the ‘Purple Cap’ — also played their part. The two bonded big time and it was visible by their on-field chemistry. They laughed, hugged and celebrated every moment worth cherishing during the campaign. On the eve of the final, RCB’s official Twitter handle shared an image of the two with the caption: “From staunch rivals, to teammates & now friends – this #IPL has changed a lot for Watto & Gayle!”

Now that the team has made it to its first IPL final and is standing on the threshold of history, the roles of these two foes-turned friends will be crucial. If the two fire on the big day, along with Kohli and ABD, there will be no stopping for the RCB, who will cruise towards their maiden title.