The KL Rahul led Kings XI Punjab has enjoyed a resurgence in their form after picking up five consecutive wins to keep themselves alive in the IPL 2020 Playoffs race. And a key cog in their success has been the performance of Chris Gayle.
The big-hitting Caribbean had to sit out the initial phase of the tournament due to injury, but ever since his return, he has overturned the fortunes for KXIP- with a 100% win rate.
IPL 2020: Gayle’s performance in the five matches played so far
vs RCB, Sharjah: 53 off 45 balls. Took his time, but made sure he hit the big sixes to help KXIP snap their losing run.
vs MI, Dubai. 24 off 21 balls. A cameo in the run-chase followed by a statement six at the start of the second Super Over as KXIP won the match of the tournament.
vs DC, Dubai. 29 off 13 balls. Went after Tushar Deshpande in the powerplay, knowing KXIP needed to target Delhi’s fifth bowler.
vs SRH, Abu Dhabi. 20 off 20 balls. No real impact in this match but his wicket was a turning point for SRH to restrict the Punjab batting lineup.
vs KKR, Sharjah. 51 off 29 balls. Came into bat when KXIP did not have momentum in the run-chase and turned the tables around completely.
IPL 2020: Gayle’s impact for KXIP
What has been impressing for Gayle is how he has not shied away from running hard between the wickets, something we did not see too much of in the IPL last year or for West Indies. He has had his fitness issues and even when he didn’t take the quick runs, he could hit the ball miles. But with this improved level of fitness, he has looked fresh in this tournament.
The 100% win record with Gayle in the side is more coincidence than causation but the impact is unmissable. Having the world’s best T20 batsman hungry for success, even at 41 years of age, has been a key part of Punjab’s winning run. And now KL Rahul’s side will want that to secure the playoffs berth – an ambition which seemed improbable not too long ago seems imminent now.