NEW DELHI: Before IPL 2020 began, Kings XI Punjab captain KL Rahul had spoken to TimesofIndia.com about playing with Chris Gayle and what the explosive Jamaican brings to the table. Though Punjab haven’t played Gayle yet in IPL 2020, they know the firepower they have on their bench with Gayle waiting patiently for his chance this season.
If and when Gayle plays, he is likely to forge an attacking opening partnership with Rahul. When the destructive KL Rahul and Chris Gayle are at the crease together, you can expect fireworks from the word go. Both the Kings XI Punjab openers lit up the last season with their swashbuckling batting.
“It’s been a lot of fun playing with Chris. Not just (that) I have played two seasons with him at KXIP, I have played with him at RCB as well. I have known him for a good 6-7 years. As a youngster, I did speak with him a lot and I was looking at him as an opening batsman. How destructive, powerful, and how intimidating he is,” Rahul told Timesofindia.com in an interview before IPL 2020 began.
This time in IPL 2020, KXIP have played three matches so far in the UAE and Rahul has opened with Mayank Agarwal in all the three matches. The Punjab outfit has emerged victorious on one occasion so far, losing the other two games narrowly. One in a Super Over against Delhi Capitals and the other to Rajasthan Royals thanks largely to Rahul Tewatia‘s explosive cameo, despite having put 223 on the board.
Mayank Agarwal’s exploits with the bat at the top of the order (221 runs in 3 innings with one century and one fifty) have meant that the franchise hasn’t missed the services of Gayle. So when will Punjab look to play Gayle? Rahul had earlier said (after the tournament started) that Gayle will come in at the right time.
KL Rahul finished as the second-highest run-getter in the 2019 season with 593 runs in 14 matches at an average of 53.90, including six fifties and one century, while the self proclaimed ‘universe boss’ Gayle scored 490 runs in 13 matches, including a blistering 99 not out.
It’s no secret that Chris Gayle is a very popular cricketer across the world and has a big fan following in India as well. IPL fans are eagerly waiting to witness a Gayle storm in the UAE soon and it will be interesting to see when the man who holds the record for the maximum sixes and centuries in the IPL makes the playing XI cut.
“I try to learn a lot from him (Gayle). We share a good friendship and that’s what came out in the middle in the last two seasons. He is somebody who is such an impact player, such a match-winner for whatever team he has played. Like I said he is very intimidating and takes down (the) opposition on a given day. He can destroy any bowling attack. That’s a great quality to have and I am happy that someone like Chris is in our team. I have enjoyed the partnership with him. We understand each other’s game very well. We have formed good partnerships in the last two seasons,” Rahul told TimesofIndia.com before IPL 2020 began.
B💣💣M! 💪#SaddaPunjab #WakhraSquad #IPL2020 @henrygayle https://t.co/iMNC9kgBrn
— Kings XI Punjab (@lionsdenkxip) 1600831800000
Rahul, who is the highest run-getter in IPL 2020 so far, with 222 runs in 3 matches at an astonishing average of 111, including one century and one half-century, had also spoken about how he is happy cricket is back after a long gap.
The IPL was scheduled to start on March 29, but due to the fast-spreading and deadly coronavirus pandemic the cash-rich league was suspended till April 15 and then postponed before finally kicking off on September 19 in Abu Dhabi.
On being asked how he motivated himself and remained focused during the lockdown and what the batting session was like when he hit the nets for the first time post the lockdown, Rahul told TimesofIndia.com at that time: “We all enjoyed the time off the game as much as possible. Obviously, we missed the game a lot. We just wanted to be in the middle and play the game. I just kept myself busy. I was doing regular exercises and training at home to get physically stronger. I had chats with coaches and trainers and asked them what should be done to improve in terms of fitness. Apart from this, I just enjoyed (being) with family at home”.
“The first hit I had was a couple of months back in Bangalore. I managed to go out and had a couple of net sessions. I played for a couple of days and those were very very bad. I was scared and nervous. Batting was all over the place. It was a bit scary. After two sessions, the third one was slightly better. I started hitting the ball pretty well. Before coming here (UAE), I had again a few sessions in Bangalore and that really helped. Luckily, we got three weeks of training time in UAE as well ahead of the tournament to ensure that we get enough training sessions,” the KXIP skipper signed off.