Jaipur, April 29 -- There can't be better news for a sport than having someone as charismatic as Chris Gayle, who makes the spectators eat out of his hand when he gets going. However, there's a flipside to someone becoming as big as Gayle has in the Indian T20 league. While the big Jamaican has thousands of spectators, on the ground as well as millions glued to television, all excited and on the edge of their seats, his dismissal pretty much kills the joy, anticipation and excitement.
In the league, especially post his record 175 not out, he has become a phenomenon Sachin Tendulkar was in the mid 1990s - many would switch off their TV once he got out without bothering about the result. Similarly, fans only want to see Gayle blow at his best.
On Monday, spectators at the Rajasthan Royals' home ground refused to stop screaming as Gayle struck a quickfire 34. But once he was out, the emcee had to shout his lungs out to keep the same spectators awake until the Royals began their chase and won by four wickets in the last over.
What must have made up for their disappointment of Gayle not regaling them as they would have wished was two men from their own team producing the goods when it mattered.
While Shane Watson has made it a habit to come up with sensational showings in the league, it was the 41-ball 63 from Sanju Samson, a rookie playing only in his second game, which must have pleased them no end.
The 18-year-old wicketkeeper from Kerala showed tremendous maturity and the ability to play rasping strokes. to keep up with the asking rate while chasing a stiff target.
The ever-reliable Watson, on the other hand, bade his time, allowing the greenhorn lead the way.
But when push came to shove, the Australia all-rounder yet again showed what he is capable of. To go with his three wickets, his measured 41 was the bedrock on which the Royals built their victory.
It's just that he could not finish off the job.
But before he fell, the Royals already had a foot in the door, and despite some drama in the last over, they were home.
After his third high-quality performance in a row, it would be a bit unfair if the Australian isn't spoken of in the same breath as Gayle.
Published by HT Syndication with permission from Hindustan Times.