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Batman, Superman in form of their life: Gayle

Wisden India logo Wisden India 17/05/2016 Wisden India staff

© Provided by Wisden Chris Gayle likes the limelight, that’s no secret. But since that night in Mumbai exactly two months ago, when he tore England apart with a blistering ton in West Indies's first World T20 match at the Wankhede Stadium, Gayle's highest contribution in nine knocks was 7 heading into Monday (May 16) night.

The big Jamaican finally joined the party with a crucial 31-ball 49 against Kolkata Knight Riders in the 48th match of the Indian Premier League 2016, setting the platform for Royal Challengers Bangalore’s commanding nine-wicket win on the back of another fantastic partnership between Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers.

There is something about Kolkata that eggs Gayle on. Asked about the reason behind his success at the Eden Gardens, the prolific opener couldn't help but let out a loud laugh.

"I do like playing cricket here," he said, after recovering from the chuckle. "It was once my home ground (he played for the Kolkata franchise in the last decade), and I know the conditions well. We (West Indies) won the World T20 here, so it has been a fantastic ground for me. It is a hunting ground, and I am happy to be among runs today."

Gayle has been part of just six of Bangalore's 12 games so far. He missed a few because of a short paternity leave, and was dropped for a few games on form. Given his massive reputation, one would think such an eventuality would have hurt his ego. But Gayle disagreed.

"See, it is cricket. We as players know what is required," he argued. "It is basic stuff, so you keep it simple as much as possible.

The captain (Kohli) asks me to play fearless cricket, and that is what I do. Even though you might be a big player, sometimes you need a reminder as well about how good you are. It is about life as well.

I am more happy about the fans today. Nothing has been big so far, so you have to accept the 49."

In the absence of Gayle storm, something Bangalore were so used to in previous editions, Kohli and de Villiers - the top-two run run-getters so far - have done the bulk of the scoring.

On Monday, the duo strung a second-wicket partnership of 115 off just 68 balls.

"Those two have been like Batman and Superman," said Gayle, matter-of-fact.

"They are in the form of their life. Those guys should continue to press on, and not ease up.

They are doing a phenomenal job for RCB. It’s just fantastic.

They were batting in a pressure situation as well. Kohli leading from the front makes it even better, even more fantastic.

It has been a great team performance so far, and those guys have played their part in all 12 games."

Kohli, who has already scored 752 runs this season, on Monday shattered the record for most runs in a single edition of the IPL, jointly held by Gayle and Michael Hussey.

Gayle scored 733 runs in 2012, and Hussey matched him the following year, though he played two more matches than Gayle did when he achieved the feat.

"I must congratulate him on achieving this," remarked Gayle.

"Two more games and maybe he can get 900 runs. If we qualify for the playoffs, 1000 as well, who knows? It is always about determination.

He is a person who is never satisfied. He always wants to get better, which is good. For a particular batter, you always have to keep building on that, especially when you are in good form.

You have to capitalise as much as possible, and he is doing a great job. It always isn’t about power hitting. It’s about right timing, shot selection and he is very fit as well. He throws himself around the field. (He’s a) complete cricketer."

Leading up to this match, there was a lot of talk about a spin-friendly track at the Eden Gardens.

As it turned out, there was hardly any help for the slower bowlers, and batsmen found run-scoring easy. "It didn’t assist the spinners and was a good batting wicket," Gayle pointed out.

"The new ball didn’t swing as much as well, and when the spinners bowled, it skidded off the wicket. It was a good wicket, and 184 was always chasable."

The win means Bangalore still have a shot at making it to the playoffs, but cannot afford to take it easy.

They have to win their two remaining games - against Kings XI Punjab and Delhi Daredevils - and Gayle feels his side in well on track. "Winning the next two games is more important than anything," he said.

"The rest will actually take care of itself. We have to come out and keep firing. If we do make it to the playoffs, it’s going to be dangerous for all the teams."

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