Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) skipper KL Rahul showered rich praise on Chris Gayle, who scored 63-ball 99 against Rajasthan Royals (RR) in Abu Dhabi on Friday (October 30).
Rahul, who added 120 runs for the second wicket with Gayle, said it wasn't easy to bat on that "sticky" wicket and the 'Universe Boss’ did a great job to propel KXIP to 185/4 in 20 overs.
During the course of his innings, Gayle also became the first batsman to smash 1000 sixes in T20 cricket. His knock was studded with 6 fours and 8 huge sixes.
In reply, however, RR overhauled the target in 17.3 overs with vital contributions from Ben Stokes, Sanju Samson, Steve Smith and Jos Buttler.
"I thought we were 10-15 runs ahead of a par score. We've seen scores here before and 160-170 was what we decided to be a winning total. After losing Mandeep early, I and Chris felt like the wicket wasn't an easy one to bat on. A lot of credit goes to Chris. I don't think anyone apart from Chris would've been able to bat like that on a sticky wicket and give us the best chance to win the game," Rahul said in the post-match press conference after KXIP’s 7-wicket loss to RR.
The captain further said that the Caribbean legend is a huge part of their dressing room.
"I have said this before, he (Gayle) is a huge part of our dressing room, and to have somebody like that is very very inspiring. He keeps the dressing room positive and there's a lot of fun happening when Chris is batting. No one will say he's 41. He still looks like the Gayle when he first burst out in the IPL," he added.
Rahul also felt that the dew factor had a role to play as it became easy to bat in the second innings.
"One of the big reasons why the Royals could bat their way was the dew factor. Not taking anything away from their batters. They did put pressure on our bowlers and used the powerplay efficiently. Every batsman who came in started striking the ball and hitting boundaries. It worked for them and dew was a big reason behind that," he remarked.
With this loss, Kings XI Punjab now need to win their final game against Chennai Super Kings on November 1 to have hopes of qualifying. They are currently at the fourth spot with 12 points from 13 games.