The unusually cool temperatures and a bit of rustiness was keeping him from firing at his best till the other day, joked Chris Gayle after a typically belligerent 17-ball 44 helped his Karachi Kings beat Islamabad United in the Pakistan Super League on Sunday (February 26).
Gayle’s knock, laced with two fours and five sixes, took Karachi past the 124-run target in the rain-cropped match and into the second qualifier in Sharjah on Wednesday, where they will meet Islamabad again.
Asked why he was well below his best before the Sunday hitout, Gayle laughed, “Because of the weather. It’s very cold … didn’t get any sunshine. That’s the reason.”
Turning serious, he went on, “I am just kidding. I wasn’t playing much cricket, so definitely rusty and was travelling and haven’t been practicing, so it showed in the middle. But I am a professional and I am not going to find any excuse.
“I did find some time to practise here for the PSL, but it takes a bit of time. You definitely take some time to get back into the groove. Once you get back into the situation things start to flow again. Cricket is like that you always need time to succeed.”
Gayle managed just 59 runs in the first six games of the ongoing season of the PSL before being dropped for the game against Lahore Qalandars on Saturday.
He admitted to copping a fair bit of flak from the fans as well. “I was getting a lot of stick from the fans when I was not performing, but I am really happy that I did it for them,” said Gayle. “It was so important. People were shouting ‘Chris Gayle, Chris Gayle’ and then the stands erupted and everybody was cheering me and that gave me some boost as well.
“That’s where I got some momentum. So I thank the fans for sticking with me. I am glad that I have given them some thing to cheer and, hopefully – Inshallah – it will happen again.”
Gayle said Kumar Sangakkara, the Karachi captain, had asked him to play the way he wanted to. “It’s always a pressure game. I had missed out on the last game but we did well to win the game. Always a pressure game, knowing that you need a certain target to qualify,” he pointed out. “It was a rain-shortened game as well, so the captain came to me and let me know that we need to win this particular game to qualify so ‘you can play your game’.
“They (Sangakkara and Mickey Arthur, the coach) are very supportive for not only me but also for every other player who matters in the team. Once, on a particular day, your matchwinners can win a game, like (Kieron) Pollard did in the last game,” added Gayle of the allrounder who hit two sixes off the last two balls to give Karachi victory over Lahore.
And then he was back joking when asked whether he would be willing to travel to Lahore for the March 5 final of the PSL: “Well, if you take me, I will come with you. Invite me, man. Now you invite me and then you may see me.”