Kolkata: The blood-pumping anticipation the mere sight of Chris Gayle conjures up in a match is pure thrill. And while it would be almost blasphemous to compare the expectations surrounding him to the mountain that piggybacks Sachin Tendulkar every time the master walks out, it wouldn't be far off the mark to say that Gayle has carved that niche for himself. At least in Twenty20 cricket.
That brings us to this day in the Indian domestic T20 league where he has failed to score much in two consecutive matches. It shouldn't be called a failure as such, especially considering the fact that Gayle had stayed unbeaten on an incredible 92 in Royal Challengers Bangalore's opening match against Mumbai Indians.
But such is the aura Gayle had built for himself the previous season that even two unsuccessful outings tend to be seen as a letdown, not only to his team but also to the cricket fan looking forward to a whirlwind knock from his bat irrespective of his allegiance.
While racking up the highest number of runs in the previous season, not once did Gayle have two consecutive failures. He scored at least a fifty every second match and also got a marauding century against the Delhi Daredevils near the end of the group phase.
He ended with 733 runs at the top, with Gautam Gambhir trailing by 143 runs at second place. But not just the last season, Gayle's overall figures are breathtaking as well.
Consider this - Suresh Raina tops the all-time scorers' list with 2264 runs from 79 innings. Gayle, sixth on that list, has 1910 runs from just 45 innings. The fact that everyone else in the top-10 has taken at least 20 innings more than Gayle to rack up the same number of runs or less speaks of his incredible conversion rate. And Gayle has three centuries to his name in this tournament, a feat yet to be matched.
Due a special
He's probably due a big innings against Kolkata Knight Riders on Thursday. You wouldn't know, however, considering that it is Gayle. Big innings or not, he never fails to smile.
But this is also the same person who is consciously trying to bat as long as possible, a result reflected in his scores last year and in this year's opening match for RCB.