Kings XI skipper KL Rahul, on the back of employing Chris Gayle as a number three batsman, revealed that the big Jamaican will be a force to be reckoned with irrespective of where he bats in the order. Playing his first game of the season, Gayle struck a trademark 53 to help KXIP dust RCB aside.
It took them a month and eight games but on Thursday in Sharjah, Kings XI Punjab finally unleashed the Universe Boss, Chris Gayle. Having benched the big Jamaican for the first half of the season, the bottom-placed KXIP finally gave the 41-year-old his first opportunity of IPL 2020 versus RCB and the veteran grabbed the chance with both hands, striking a bludgeoning 45-ball 53, a knock which included five huge sixes. Interestingly, though, Gayle was employed at No.3 by Kings XI and the move worked like a charm as on the back of a 78-run opening stand, the Universe Boss controlled the game at his own pace and unleashed just at the right time to kill RCB’s charge.
Speaking post-match, Rahul, who was named Man of the Match for his unbeaten 61, revealed that it was Gayle who deserved the award and further described the 41-year-old as a ‘hungry lion’. Rahul attested that the southpaw will be a destructive force regardless of where he bats in the order.
“He's (Gayle) not been feeling well in the last couple of weeks. But, he is hungry even at 41. He always wanted to play from the first day. He was training hard, he wanted to be out on the park. It was a tough call to make and not make him play. It's important to keep the lion hungry. Wherever he bats, he's dangerous. He's taken it up as a challenge as well. He'll still be intimidating,” Rahul said in the post-match presentation.
Despite the scorecard reading “KXIP won by 8 wickets”, it was a struggle towards the end for Rahul’s side, who almost pulled off yet another outrageous choke. Needing 2 off the final over, KXIP needed a last-ball six from Nicholas Pooran to take them over the line. Rahul, who has already been at the receiving end of multiple heartbreaks this season, revealed that his heart was racing like never before, but claimed that the win will propel KXIP to play positive cricket in the games to come.
“I have no idea, it's (heart beat) the highest it can be. I don't even have words. We knew we had to scrape and get over the line. We are a far better side than where we are in the points table. It just got too close for comfort, happy that we crossed the line. As a group, we have been disappointing. It can get frustrating. Our skills were good, but we didn't capitalize on the big moments. It becomes a habit - winning and not winning. There are ups and downs and this has been the roller-coaster. We wanted this win to get some confidence in the group.”
Despite the win, KXIP are still bottom of the table and will need to win each of their remaining 6 matches to stand a chance to qualify for the playoffs.