IPL 2013: The Chris Gayle phenomenon

The weather forecast is always ‘Gayle storm expected’ whenever RCB are playing. Some of the sixes he had hit in IPL 2012 are yet to land. When he gets going, the bowlers find themselves on the verge of crying. The ones, who didn’t opt for a bowling career, consider themselves to be extremely lucky as they don’t have to suffer humiliation from the Big Jamaican. And Chris Gayle is possibly the first batsman whom the spectators fear after one of his monstrous sixes hit the nose of a 10-year-old girl during IPL 2012.

But Chris Gayle is an entertainment package, an integral part of the Indian Premier League. The 33-year-old has become a force to reckon with in the Indian Premier League and Kolkata Knight Riders would have had no clue of what a gem they were losing, when Gayle opted to join Royal Challengers Bangalore in 2011. Since then, he has owned almost every batting record in IPL and it has rained sixes whenever he has hit the crease.

The pugnacious left-hander has raised the standards of explosive batting. Miss-hits from his bat go way back into the stands and I reckon some of his fans might be wearing helmets while cheering for him inside the stadium. Gayle scored 733 runs from 15 IPL matches last year, 354 of which came from sixes (59). Many established batsmen didn’t even reach the 350-run mark in the entire tournament.

The most significant part of Gayle’s batting of late has been his tendency to spend more time at the crease. It all happened in the fifth edition of IPL where he changed his batting style and was often seen batting till the 15th over. While the opponents thought they had managed to prevent the ‘Gayle storm’, the left-hander used his unique tactic of targeting part-timers and then accelerating the pace of his innings during the death overs. It is something which swashbucklers like David Warner and Virender Sehwag have failed to learn. Gayle trusts his hand-eye coordination and is confident about scoring even 40 runs in two overs. Now that the teams know this, there is no sigh of relief for them until and unless he is back to the pavilion.

But what happened on April 23, 2013 at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium was something that left fans and players and ex-cricketers speechless. It was an incredible innings by the man to say the least. Even the most formidable squads have struggled to cross the 160-run mark this season in IPL. Royal Challengers Bangalore lost their first wicket at 167, 127 of which came from Gayle’s willow, with 4.2 overs still to go. Gayle played probably the best IPL innings since its inception in 2008, broke several records along the way, and I am sure some of the Pune bowlers must have had nightmares after that onslaught.

While he continues to be a huge asset for the RCB, the Kohli-led side should also have a Plan B. They don’t require it on many occasions as the Jamaican single-handedly cruises them to victories, but RCB have been ousted from the IPL whenever Gayle has failed in do-or-die matches. Thus, if RCB have any hopes of winning their maiden IPL title, they will have to release some pressure off their formidable opener.

The cool-headed Gayle is also one of the more active cricketers on Twitter. He responds to most of the tweets and even after losses he tweets stuff, which brings a smile to the faces of his fans.

His moves on the Gangnam style were a big hit during the 2012 T20 World Cup. Other West Indies players too tried to woo the spectators by coming up with their own versions, but the ones by Gayle got the maximum cheer from the crowd. While he still enjoys dancing on Gangnam style, the crowd just love it when he bats in his natural ‘bang-bang style!’