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HindustanTimes Sun,24 Aug 2014

Cricket

'Focus on Sachin good for Gayle'
Somshuvra Laha , Hindustan Times
Kolkata, October 31, 2013
First Published: 23:54 IST(31/10/2013)
Last Updated: 00:21 IST(1/11/2013)

Chris Gayle's reintroduction to first-class cricket in India lasted just 25 balls on Thursday but a couple of boundaries flicked off his legs and a glorious straight drive that accounted for 12 of his 18 runs provided more than a glimpse of what is possible irrespective of the format.

This Gayle isn't much different from that golden helmet-wearing gladiator who slew Twenty20 teams with his broad bat. The gait is still laidback. Only his shot selection has changed for obvious reasons. On Thursday, however he departed chasing Imtiaz Ahmed and dragging the ball onto his middle stump.

It could be rustiness. It also could be the hangover of the ability that had helped him lead Jamaica Tallawahs to the Caribbean Premier League title in August.

Since then, Gayle has not played competitive cricket and before last week's team building camp in Miami, was busy with the opening of his new sports bar 'Triple Century'.

But his close friend and former Test cricketer Maurice Foster feels Gayle is pumped up to do well in India.

"Chris is always motivated by performance, especially since he is seen as a T20 cricketer, he wants to impress in Test matches," Foster, who has played 14 Tests for the West Indies, told HT from Jamaica.

Foster also thinks Gayle will benefit from all the attention being on Sachin Tendulkar. "Everyone expects this series to be highlighted by the Tendulkar factor. I don't think Gayle would be too worried by that," said Foster.

The last time Gayle played in whites on Indian soil was in 2002 when, as a 23-year-old, he made 88 in Kolkata. Since then, Gayle has transformed into an IPL legend but Foster said his Twenty20 exploits won't have any bearing on this series.

"He is extremely popular in India but this is a totally different ball game. His IPL experience will not be a factor," said Foster, a former Jamaica captain.

For the impressive records Gayle has in Test cricket, he is yet to score a century against India. The upcoming series is an ideal opportunity for Gayle to tick a few more boxes.

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