Before this IPL, Suresh Raina was the only batsman with more than 3000 runs in the tournament. The number has swelled to five this season. But no one has done it with more ease than Chris Gayle. Raina has taken 126 innings to score 3671 runs. Gayle, the only overseas player to cross 3000, took just 75 innings to reach the mark.
Showing that the sense of occasion had not deserted him, Gayle chose that innings, against Kings XI Punjab, to score his fifth century in the IPL. In many ways, Gayle is the antithesis of a T20 player. An average fielder, he isn’t the fittest bloke around. And yet he is the most feared batsman. There could be three reasons behind his success.
Upper body strength
What he lacks in running between the wickets, Gayle makes up with his upper body strength.
For some time now, Gayle has been suffering from a back niggle. Throughout the World Cup, he has posted selfies on massage tables. Whatever relief comes from those sessions, Gayle uses that to impart power behind his shots. That explains the distances of his sixes. And he has hit the most in IPL — 227.
Two seasons with KKR didn’t produce many runs. Gayle wasn’t given much time in the middle. And the slow pitch of Eden Gardens was not the best suited to his batting. That led to a bit of impatience in his approach. It changed when Gayle was bought by RCB.
Given the opener’s slot and full freedom to build his innings, Gayle started leaving deliveries and waiting for the right balls to hit.
The ploy worked. In the first two seasons with KKR, Gayle scored 171 runs in 7 matches and 292 in 9. But in the following seasons with RCB, he accumulated 608 runs (12 matches), 733 runs (15 matches), 708 runs (16 matches) and 196 runs (9 matches).
Ultimate party man
Another crucial factor is Gayle’s zest for living a fun-filled life. Gayle’s Twitter account is full of pictures of him surrounded by women, music and good food. A bash at his castle like home in Kingston is always the talk of the town.