Chris Gayle announced he was ready to shine in the 2020 Indian Premier League with a crucial half-century for the Kings XI Punjab in his maiden innings on Thursday, having missed the first half of the campaign due to selection issues and sickness.
The former West Indies captain, 41, is one of the most successful batsmen in the Twenty20 format but before Thursday he was unable to make the team this season, which is being played in the United Arab Emirates due to concern about the coronavirus pandemic in India.
The self-proclaimed “Universe Boss” struck five sixes in his 45-ball 53 before he was run out on the penultimate ball with the scores tied on 171 against Virat Kohli’s Royal Challengers Bangalore.
There was some drama in the last over with leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal conceding one run in five balls but Gayle’s compatriot, Nicholas Pooran, hit a six on the last to hand bottom-placed Punjab their second win in eight matches.
“Come on man, it is the Universe Boss batting, how can I be nervous? Maybe I gave you a heart attack,” Gayle, who pointed at “The Boss” sticker on his bat after reaching fifty, told the broadcaster about the final-over drama.
“I thought I had it in the bag but strange things happen in cricket. It was a good innings, my first innings and now I can finish the IPL in 2020 and make myself available for 2021. I can get out of the bubble now and go.
“It was important to keep fit. I don’t want to be on the bench but I was enjoying it. I was actually beginning to get more fitter, get the six-pack going, the beach body going.”
It was an unusual position for Gayle to bat at number three as the powerful left-hander has mostly been an opener. He took time to adjust but made up for his slow start with lofty hits later.
“Team asked me to do a job, I deliver. It wasn’t an issue,” he said.