IPL 2018: Chris Gayle fireworks key as KXIP reach business-end

first_imgChris Gayle’s stint for Kings XI Punjab so far in IPL 2018 can be neatly divided into two halves.In the first half, he was unstoppable. After sitting out the first two matches, Gayle blasted 63 against Chennai Super Kings before hammering a barely believable 104 not out against Sunrisers Hyderabad, who boast of the best bowling line-up in the tournament.Gayle, who almost went unsold in the player auction after not being retained by Royal Challengers Bangalore, said he was playing for respect. KXIP had only paid base price for Gayle but the West Indian superstar, ageing and sore, continued to battle.In the next game against Kolkata Knight Riders, Gayle smashed an unbeaten 62 to power yet another KXIP victory.Two days later, against Delhi Daredevils, Gayle had to sit out due to a sore back. He returned since to play three more matches and scored 23 (vs SRH), 50 (vs Mumbai Indians) and 8 (vs Rajasthan Royals).The 40-ball 50 against MI had met with a bit of criticism from experts. He was slow to start off with and avoided playing those risky shots? Was Gayle scared of taking risks? But why? Wasn’t he in India to earn some respect?The other school of thought was that he was probably getting ready for a late assault. In the past, he has set himself up for several big knocks by starting slowly.Whatever that was, Gayle’s fifty went in vain and he has increasingly started to look a little edgy again. Bowlers have figured Gayle out again – there has been little width offered. Pacers have kept away from the Gayle zone and captains have encouraged their bowlers to bowl close to the body.advertisementKXIP came back from a two-match losing streak to win against Royals but that was only thanks to a KL Rahul special. KXIP’s batting has now looked increasingly dependent on him with the middle order failing to fire.Yuvraj Singh has been far from his best while all that shuffling down the order has left the others confused.Gayle needs to rediscover the mojo that made him so dangerous in the first half. And if he does, then KXIP will be a different team once again.Can that change come about against the Royals tonight as the two teams clash for the second time in three days?last_img read more

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