Gayle eyeing better show

Start will be crucial to RCBs fortunes, says Jamaican opener

Since his belligerent century against his former side Kolkata Knight Riders in the last edition of the Indian Premier League at Eden Gardens, Chris Gayle has emerged the hottest property in the Indian T20 bash.

game changer: Chris Gayle during a media interaction session at the Chinnaswamy stadium on Friday. DH PHOTO

The big Jamaican, who plundered 608 runs at a jaw-dropping strike rate of over 183 in 14 matches, has raised the stock of Royal Challengers Bangalore exponentially. It was no surprise then that the Vijay Mallya-owned franchise did everything in its capacity to retain the hard-hitting opener. However, Gayle’s own desire to turn up again in red and gold colours only made RCB’s task easier.

After a lengthy workout at the KSCA gym here on Friday, Gayle interacted with the media and confirmed that he is going to be available for the entire duration of IPL 5 despite signing an agreement with the West Indies Cricket Board.

Excerpts

How does it feel to be back in Bangalore?

It’s good to be back (in Bangalore). The hospitality here is always good. I think I’m most welcome again here. I’m looking forward to IPL 5 and hopefully I can have a better tournament than the last one. As far as negotiations (with RCB) were concerned, everything went off well. I was looking forward to coming back here.

There was no doubt about it. Eventually, things worked out and we’re both happy. Hopefully we can go over that extra hurdle by winning IPL 5. I came in as a replacement player last year and things went well. This year I’m looking to start afresh. We have been part of such a wonderful group ..it’s always pleasing.

Hopefully, we can continue where we left. It was a disappointing final but that’s history now. Hopefully, we can get off to a good start and try and get to that final four and take it from there.

After your performance last year, the expectations will be bigger this year...
Yes, the expectations are very high based on what happened last year. But last year is history and we don’t know what the future holds. I’m not a person to actually predict and say, ‘yes I’m going to better 600 odd runs’. We’ll just have to wait and see. The start is going to be crucial.

I think there’s more games as well, so looking forward to that. It’s not that one team is the favourite to actually win it. All teams are up for it. We’ll try and do our part, get the basic things right – the batting and the bowling. Once we get those things right, we can definitely be in the final again.

How tough was it to deal with twin disappointments (loss in IPL and CLT20 finals) last year in a space of just a few months?

It was disappointing. But the good thing is we should gain some experience from reaching those two finals. If we do reach that stage again, we know what to expect and we can cross the hurdle. It was a wonderful tournament based on the situation we came from to actually reaching the finals. Hopefully, we’ll get there again and I’m sure we know how to win it this time.

You have played in private T20 leagues across the world, how do you compare them?

It’s been good. Even though you have international players in the Big Bash (in Australia), the IPL is a different atmosphere compared to all those other tournaments. This is the ultimate, the IPL. You have most international stars available which makes it more competitive and it’s not going to be easy for one particular team to win the championship.

How is your groin injury now?

It’s still a bit of a niggle and doing some work on it. Hopefully, by the next couple of days leading up to the first game I’ll be ready.

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