Chris Gayle, with another blistering innings on Thursday against Delhi Daredevils, proved what he means to his team Royal Challengers Bangalore. The marauding Jamaican slammed 13 sixes in his whirlwind 62-ball unbeaten 128 – his first century in IPL 5 – to keep RCB afloat in their race to the playoffs.
With 706 runs at a staggering average of 64, the most runs by a batsman in the competition, Gayle has been an unstoppable force in 2012. In fact, he has outdone his IPL 4 achievements and fans of the Bangalore franchise will hope Gayle has it in him to carry the team to the title this year. The 32-year-old had famously restored RCB’s campaign last year when he joined the squad midway through the tournament. His 608 runs, including two hundreds and three half-centuries in 12 matches, had propelled Bangalore to the final only for Gayle to fail.
In IPL 5, Gayle has again proved to be a one-man force for RCB, who would have been out of the league had Gayle not been the part of their unit. Though players like AB de Villiers and Virat Kohli - leading the side in place of Daniel Vettori - have shown glimpses of their talent, their contributions have been miniscule when compared to what Gayle has done for Bangalore. Five of his eight fifty-plus scores have changed the fortunes in RCB’s favour, and the team has mostly struggled when Gayle has fallen early.
After his heroics in this form of the game, can we call the burly Jamaican Mr. Twenty20? Someone who has already played 106 matches in the format and plundered close to 4000 runs as a globe-trotter, playing the shortest form virtually in every cricket playing country, is surely worthy of that title. The West Indian has had an estranged relationship with his home board and though the altercation is said to be over, Gayle - who last played for West Indies in the 2011 World Cup – is yet to find a place for the current tour of England.
But as is often said - someone’s loss is someone’s gain. RCB have embraced Gayle and the left-hander has returned favours by playing numerous match-winning innings for his franchise. And Gayle’s determination to do well has just increased as the tournament progressed. "Maiden over is okay, as long as I am there till the end,” Gayle said after his smashing knock in Delhi on Thursday, adding, “If I stay longer, it helps to get the runs for the team."
Some may agree of calling Gayle Mr. Twenty20 and some may not, but his attacking play definitely makes him the biggest entertainer in the ultra short format of the game.