The 2020 edition of the Indian Premier League presented a series of firsts for many. The tournament was hosted outside of India and matches were played in front of empty stadiums. The world saw MS Dhoni return to the field after over a year, a timeframe during which the former India captain announced his retirement from international cricket. There was no Suresh Raina, or Harbhajan Singh, and for the first time in the history of the tournament, Chennai Super Kings did not make it to the Playoffs.
Keeping up with the series of firsts, the IPL 2020 was a bit of a mixed bag for Chris Gayle. He has featured in the tournament since 2009 and become one of the biggest attractions of the league. However, for the first time, Gayle did not make it to the starting XI of his IPL team for as many as seven consecutive matches. He was a regular previously for Kolkata Knight Riders and then obviously, the Royal Challengers Bangalore, where his performances escalated him to the level of stardom he enjoys, but it changed in 2020.
Even when Kings XI Punjab went on a downward spiral losing six matches out of the first seven, Gayle continued to miss out. In between, he was hospitalised for food poisoning, which prolonged his wait. But when the time finally arrived, the Universe Boss showed exactly why there is no global T20 superstar quite like him. His arrival marked a change in fortunes of KXIP as the franchise won its next five games, with Gayle leading from the front with scores of 53, 51 and 99.
In 2018, when Gayle had moved to KXIP after spending seven years with RCB, the West Indies batsman in an interview offered a bit of a cold shoulder to the Red and Yellow. He had revealed how RCB had shown interest in retaining him but the phone call never came. Still, there wasn’t any animosity there. Immediately upon switching sides, Gayle peeled off a hundred in his fourth match and bagged two Player of the Match awards in between.
In two seasons prior to this, Gayle had notched up 368 and 490 runs in 2018 and 2019 respectively, so when he was not included in the XI, it was every bit surprising. Sturdier men would have wilted, but the swag with which Gayle rolls, never allowed any form of insecurity to creep in.
“But I was a bit disappointed that it didn’t start the IPL but eventually it happened and I played the first game, even though I got sick when I was supposed to play again. There were plenty of twists and turns before I actually played my first game,” he said. “But eventually it happened and I was able to use my experience within IPL, because, you know I’ve been playing the tournament since the beginning. There was nothing to actually write about, but just to show people that you know Universe Boss is still around, because I’m the GOAT. So, it’s just one of those things they can learn from their mistake, not me.”