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Where does Chris Gayle rank among the IPL's MVPs?

The T20 behemoth often gets big runs for his team when everyone else is struggling

Chris Gayle swats a short ball away, Kings XI Punjab v Royal Challengers Bangalore, IPL 2019, Mohali, April 13, 2019

Chris Gayle's impact score of 53 per game is the highest for a pure batsman  •  BCCI

We look at the six most impactful players in the history of the IPL using ESPNcricinfo's Smart Stats tool (min qualification of 60 matches). Also check out No. 6 , No. 5 , No. 4 and No. 3

Gayle is one of the most destructive players in T20 history and has scored over 13,000 runs. At the age of 41 he is still extremely relevant in the T20 format and could play a key role for Kings XI Punjab in the 2020 IPL.
He has been the most impactful player of a match once every five matches he has played in the league. This is the second most frequent rate for any player who has played at least 60 IPL games in the history of the tournament, according to ESPNcricinfo's Smart Stats.
Gayle never got going consistently in the first three editions of the IPL. However, after he was picked up by the Royal Challengers Bangalore as a replacement for Dirk Nannes in 2011, he never looked back. His peak years were between 2011 and 2013, and he won the orange cap in 2012 and 2013.
In those three seasons, he scored 2049 runs at an average of 62.09 and a strike rate of 165.10 with four hundreds and 14 fifties from 42 innings. The next highest in this period was Virat Kohli with 1555 runs at an average of 39.87 and a strike rate of 125.1. The difference shows you how Gayle dominated the league during that period. He continued to make an impact in subsequent editions of the IPL, albeit not with the same consistency.
One way to gauge how influential a player has been for his team's fortunes is to look at how often he has won the Man-of-the-Match award. ESPNcricinfo's Smart Stats has its own metric for objectively identifying the player who has had the highest impact on the match: the Total Impact measure, a numerical value and a sum of the Batting and Bowling Impact of the player in a match, which are values calculated by the Smart Stats algorithm.
One of his underrated innings came in RCB's opening match of the 2013 season, against Mumbai Indians. On a pretty tough and sticky Chinnaswamy pitch, Gayle made 92 off 58 balls; the second highest score for RCB was Kohli's 24, and only one other batsman in the match crossed 30. Gayle had to adjust his temp to the constant fall of wickets at the other end. At the end of ten overs, he was on 23 off 22 balls; he made 69 in another 38 balls in the innings. He went after Munaf Patel (31 off 11) and Kieron Pollard (15 off five) and ended up scoring 59% of the team's total. RCB went on to win the match by two runs. According to the Smart Stats algorithm,Gayle's Total Impact score was 179.25; the next best in the match was Dinesh Karthik's 107.88. In a match dominated by bowlers, Gayle's runs had a huge impact considering he had very little support from his partners
In last season's home game for Kings XI Punjab against RCB, he made 99 not out in an innings where no other batsman crossed 18. Although the Kings XI lost the game, Gayle had more impact than anyone else in the match in spite of Kohli and AB de Villiers making match-winning fifties. Gayle's impact in the game (122.39) was nearly six times more than the next best for Kings XI, Mayank Agarwal's 22.67. Even Kohli and de Villiers had impact scores of only 48.58 and 69.14 respectively.
On average, Gayle has an impact score of 53 per game. This is the highest for a pure batsman and it highlights the impact he has on his team's totals. Does he have another year left in him? Even if he does not, Gayle leaves a rich legacy behind in the shortest format of the game.

Gaurav Sundararaman is a senior stats analyst at ESPNcricinfo