IPL veteran Chris Gayle is still learning at Kings XI Punjab
IPL veteran Chris Gayle is still learning at Kings XI Punjab Image Credit: Twitter

Dubai: One of IPL’s most brilliant students is all primed to deliver with a brand-new school management at the helm of the Kings XI Punjab, this season.

A mainstay with the Royal Challengers Bangalore from 2011 to 2017, Chris Gayle has been one of the most fascinating and flamboyant players to have graced the cash-rich Indian Premier League.

Gayle’s performances as a cricketer have synched well with a host of records. As of March 2019, Gayle is the only player to score more than seven T20 centuries. He also has the most (six) IPL centuries while also being the fastest batsman to score 4,000 runs in the IPL.

The 40-year-old is also the first and only batsman to hit 300 sixes in the IPL, while having the highest individual score in T20 with an unbeaten 175 runs off a mere 66 balls against the Pune Warriors India.

Exactly three years back, Gayle became the first-ever player to hit 100 T20I sixes. But, following his long stint in Bangalore, Gayle – who turns 41 later this month – was snapped up by Kings XI Punjab at the 2018 auction for his base price of Dh1 million.

Gayle repaid the trust put in him with an unbeaten 104 off 63 deliveries against Sunrisers Hyderabad to help his team win the match by 15 runs.

All eyes will now be on Gayle, who has one of the biggest followings in the IPL as the big-hitting batsman joined up with his team for a training session at the Sharjah Cricket Club’s training nets at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium, late on Saturday.

The West Indies batsman completed his six-day quarantine and admitted that he is eager to light up this season while working with a new set-up within the team.

“With a new head coach in Anil Kumble and a new captain in KL Rahul, Gayle admitted it felt like going back to school, with a “new headmaster is in charge”, while assuring his full backing towards Rahul, who will be leading KXIP during IPL-13 that gets under way at three venues in the UAE from September 19.

“Back in class, some new students here as well and it was good to be around them. Some new teachers here as well, we have new headmaster (head coach) in Anil Kumble. So, Universe Boss is back in school,” Gayle said in a video posted on the official social media handle of the team.

“Looking to rally around with new head boy, KL Rahul,” he added.

The Jamaican batsman has improved with his performances in his new team over the past two years. After scoring 368 runs from 11 matches in 2018, Gayle got better last year with a total of 490 runs from 13 matches at an average of 40.83 with four half-centuries.

Currently lying sixth in the all-time list of leading IPL run-getters, the KXIP outfit will be relying heavily on Gayle to play his natural big-hitting game while opening the innings with his new skipper Rahul.

However, Gayle hasn’t played any form of competitive cricket since January. But, with this year’s tournament being the longest in the history of the IPL, the Jamaican is looking forward to spending time with the new and old bunch of guys.

“This is our family and our home now. We just have to try to get up and running as quickly as possible and enjoy each other’s company,” he said.