What’s the story?
Chris Gayle stands on the precipice of Twenty20 history, as he attempts to become the first player to score 10,000 runs in the format when Royal Challengers Bangalore take on Kings XI Punjab in Indore on Monday night.
In case you didn’t know…
Since making his T20 debut in 2005, Gayle has racked up a slew of records. In 288 innings, the self-styled ‘Universe Boss’ has hit 9,975 runs with 18 centuries – 11 more than Brendon McCullum, who’s second on the list. Gayle and McCullum also occupy the top two spots in terms of all-time runs scored, albeit the Kiwi trails by more than 2,500.
Gayle’s strike-rate of almost 150 adds up to just shy of nine runs an over, perhaps the best indicator of how effective he has been in giving his teams rapid starts over the years. With 60 half-centuries to his name as well, the T20 legend has surpassed 50 in more than a quarter of his T20 knocks.
Such explosiveness is not usually coupled with consistency, but Gayle bucks the trend. His 735 sixes equate to more than two per innings, and out of those who’ve played more than 50 T20s, only Virat Kohli has a higher average (41.22 versus 40.54). Remarkably, Gayle has a higher average in T20 than he does in List A cricket.
While Gayle’s T20 record is unquestionable, his recent performances have shown him to be mortal. Failure to pass 20 in six of his last 10 T20 innings is very out of character and there are even murmurs that the Royal Challengers could drop the West Indian if AB de Villiers is fully fit.
In Bangalore’s home opener against Delhi Daredevils on Saturday, the Caribbean crusher looked unusually timid, scratching out just six runs before being dismissed. Bangalore overcame a rocky start thanks to Kedar Jadhav’s fiery 69 to accumulate 157, a score which was ultimately 15 too many for the Daredevils.
Unless the West Indian’s form picks up in the next couple of games, Bangalore may be forced to make a tough call. With only four overseas players allowed, they will be hoping their key opener can reverse his fortunes so they can avoid that tricky decision.
If Gayle is unable to cross 10,000 against Kings XI, his next possible opportunity will be on Friday afternoon at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium, when Bangalore host the Mumbai Indians.
Gayle may be out of form right now, but he’s sure to reach the historic landmark in his next couple of outings. A T20 titan, the Jamaican amassing 10,000 runs will be the most impressive long-term batting feat in the format, and nobody deserves it more.
But Royal Challengers cannot afford to be romantic. Now nearly 38, Gayle is ageing and his latest form only highlights that. If his form doesn’t improve, they may be forced to do the unthinkable.