Instant Impact – Chris Gayle and others who have walked in and changed the game
As the race for the playoffs gets tighter, we look at four overseas players who have given their teams’ qualification chances a significant boost after entering the stage around the halfway stage of the IPL.
Chris Gayle, Kings XI Punjab (Innings: five, runs: 177, strike rate: 138.28)
The Kings XI Punjab were reeling at the bottom of the table with only one win from seven games when Chris Gayle returned after a stomach bug made him miss two matches. Since then, the Kings XI have won five matches in a row and Gayle has featured in all of those.
One of the issues ailing the Kings XI was their middle order either not building on strong starts or not being able to close out chases. By incorporating Gayle at No. 3 – something he had done only five times in 396 T20 innings earlier – they have added both experience to their line-up and fear in the oppositions’ minds.
His 177 runs, studded with 15 sixes, have already handed them two eight-wicket wins, one five-wicket win, and two points from the double-Super Over game against the Mumbai Indians, in which he came out with the aim of hitting a six first ball in the second eliminator, and did it in trademark style to clinch victory. With Glenn Maxwell off form, Gayle’s intimidating presence at No. 3 has ensured that once their opening stand is broken, the Kings XI don’t slide and also sustain – if not increase – their scoring rate.