For millions of cricket fans, Chris Gayle has a simple motto in life — bat hard and party harder.
A day before demolishing England with an undefeated 48-ball 100 at the Wankhede Stadium on Wednesday, the flamboyant Jamaican was partying with actor Sneha Ullal.
While Gayle the entertainer and Gayle the party animal are two well known facets of the cricketer, what often gets overlooked is Gayle the fitness freak.
His Royal Challengers Bangalore teammate, Sarfaraz Khan, says the West Indies opener is a fitness buff who unfailingly hits the gym daily at 9 pm for a 40-minute workout session when he’s not playing a match. Exercises in the gym often focus on strengthening the core. Gayle also pays a lot of attention to his diet.
Sarfaraz, the Mumbai batsman who now plays for Uttar Pradesh, says while it is often assumed that Gayle is an easygoing cricketer, he pays as much attention to his batting in the nets in training sessions as anyone else.
“Woh kaam ke time kaam aur masti ke time masti karte hai (When it is time for work, he focuses on it and when it’s time for fun he lets his hair down),” the 18-year-old told HT.
Gayle himself said it was his training before the tournament that had helped him equal the third fastest T20 international century against England. “The preparation has been really good, it’s all about practising and then doing it in the middle,” the 36-year-old said after the match.
Pacer Ishwar Pandey has witnessed first-hand the devastation Gayle can leave in his wake when he’s in the zone. In 2013, when Gayle scored a ton off just 30 balls, still a T20 record, the Madhya Pradesh pacer was among those hapless Pune Warriors bowlers. Gayle eventually finished unbeaten on 175, off 66 balls.
Recalling that innings, Pandey said: “We were all wondering what we could do to get him out, but on that day nothing we were doing worked.”
Gayle’s spirit is infectious. His tag-team signature dance move with RCB skipper Virat Kohli was a big hit as was his Gangnam style moves. “He is chilled out. He is always joking around with juniors and will tease them over anything. He keeps the dressing room light. Last year, he danced in the dressing room; he likes to take selfies with players. He loves eating and would inform the hotel chef,” said RCB spinner Yuzvendra Chahal.
“I don’t think I have ever seen him thinking too much for his game. He practices hard and decides what he is going to do on a particular day in training. Some days he will only defend, then he will only play shots and some days he will hit just sixes. He keeps it simple.”
After his blistering knock, the first thing Gayle did was to post a video with teammate and ‘drinking partner’ Suliemann Benn on instagram. “I saw that video and suddenly remembered that picture of his with me where we both posed half naked with our arms flexed. Gayle put that picture on his instagram page. It attracted a lot of people. That was fun,” said Chahal, whose slender frame contrasts with Gayle’s physique.