There is no discernible change between a struggling Chris Gayle and a dominant one, according to his captain at Rangpur Riders, Mashrafe Mortaza. Famous for being calm with economy of movement on and off the field, Gayle feasted on Khulna Titans' young bowling attack, striking 126 off only 51 balls to lead his team another step closer to the BPL trophy.
"There's no difference [between the two Gayles]," Mashrafe said. "He likes to stay relaxed and sleep in his room. I think this is what gives him the advantage to stay relaxed in the field. I have seen him in the earlier edition of the BPL too, but I hardly saw any change in his mentality. He is always calm before batting, pads up slowly and goes to the field."
With the rest of his routine remaining same, it is often the feel of bat on ball that gets Gayle going. Mahmudullah, the Khulna captain, said that they tried to give him less room to swing his arms, bowling as straight as possible and using a lot of change of pace. But nothing worked on the day.
"The plan was to deprive him of room," Mahmudullah said. "He can spread his wings when you give him room. There is fewer options apart from bowling stump-to-stump and mixing up the pace. We didn't start well with the ball, and overall it wasn't a good bowling effort."
Gayle launched 14 sixes and six fours in an unbeaten innings, contributing nearly 75% of his team's total. But the Rangpur dressing room was too nervous to soak it all in. "The dressing room still remained tense when Gayle started hitting them big," Mashrafe said. "I think we felt better when we reached the safe zone; the dressing room only cools down when the runs flow."
Part of that reaction was because Rangpur's batting has not been as reliable as it could have been this season. Mashrafe even said: "I was sure that it would have been difficult for us if Gayle got out early. I think we were lucky that he stepped up today. But he made two contributions in difficult situation and difficult wicket, which helped us in a big way."