Young West Indies and Kings XI Punjab batsman Nicholas Pooran heaped rich praise on Chris Gayle after the West Indies legend’s comeback fifty against Royal Challengers Bangalore in their IPL 2020 match on Thursday. Pooran said Gayle showcased once again why is rated as the greatest batsman in the shortest format of the game, adding it’s a huge plus for KXIP to have the veteran opener back.
Nicholas Pooran said Chris Gayle’s approach to take it slow at the start of his innings was acceptable, considering the West Indies great’s break from competitive cricket. Notably, Gayle played his first match of IPL 2020 and his first competitive outing since January 2020 when he got the opportunity to face his former side, RCB in Sharjah.
Gayle was asked to bat a No. 3 as KXIP did not want to unsettle their successful opening pair of KL Rahul and Mayank Agarwal. The opening duo did its job by stitching another fifty-plus stand in their chase of 171. Gayle walked in and took a bit of time to get going as he faced 15 balls for his first 7 runs.
However, Gayle cut loose and took the RCB spinners to the cleaners and finished with 45-ball 53, including 5 sixes and a solitary boundary. Gayle made an immediate impact as he returned to the playing XI after recovering from illness.
“To me, he is the greatest T20 player. When Chris is batting, you always feel you have a chance of winning the game. Once he is there, it’s a different mood in the camp. We, as a batsman, would want someone like him in the middle,” Pooran told Mayank Agarwal during a post-match show for IPLT20.com.
“He started slowly, which is acceptable because he has played cricket in a long while. He has shown once more why he is the greatest T20 batsman. It’s wonderful to see him get runs.”
Never want to be in that position again: Pooran recalls last-ball thriller
Meanwhile, Nicholas Pooran also revealed what went through his mind when he faced the last ball in the thrilling finish against the RCB on Thursday. Pooran walked in when KXIP needed 1 run from 1 ball after a bizzare last 3 overs which saw them go from a position of strength to vulnerability.
KXIP needed just 11 from their last 18 balls but a strange approach from Rahul and Gayle saw them make a meal of the chase. Pooran said the equation brought back memories of their Super Over defeat to Delhi Capitals which came after they failed to chase 1 run from their last 3 balls.
Pooran hit a six as he held his nerves and took kXIP past the finish line on Thursday.
“Last over started, it was like deja vu, last 3 balls, 1 run, I thought the Delhi game all over again. One difference was back then, I was in the dug-out, but this time I was the one to go in next. Jordan said he can’t watch,” Pooran said.
“Chris got out and I went into bat.
“Honest answer is that a million things were going through my mind. I never want to be in that position again. After sitting out of for so long, I had to bat the last ball. 11 fielders felt like 22. Tonight was our night, we got those 2 important points.”