Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) skipper KL Rahul said that flamboyant opener Chris Gayle is still hungry at 41 and that it was a tough call to not make the West Indian play in the initial matches.
Punjab rode on half-centuries from Rahul and Chris Gayle to win a thrilling last-ball encounter as KXIP beat Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) by eight wickets.
“He’s (Gayle) not been feeling well in the last couple of weeks. But, he is hungry even at 41. He always wanted to play from the first day. He was training hard, he wanted be out on the park. It was a tough call to make and not make him play. It’s important to keep the lion hungry. Wherever he bats, he’s dangerous. He’s taken it up as a challenge as well. He’ll still be intimidating,” Rahul said.
The Punjab skipper further said that his team is much better than what it reflects on the points table and that as captain, his aim to win matches.
“I have no idea, it’s (heart beat) the highest it can be. I don’t even have words. We knew we had to scrape and get over the line. We are a far better side than where we are in the points table. It just got too close for comfort, happy that we crossed the line. As a group, we have been disappointing. It can get frustrating. Our skills were good, but we didn’t capitalize on the big moments.
“It becomes a habit – winning and not winning. There are ups and downs and this has been the roller-coaster. We wanted this win to get some confidence in the group. It’s my first time as captain, for me it’s always about winning,” Rahul said.
Gayle, playing his first match of the season blasted a brilliant 53 off 45 deliveries but failed to close the game as he was run-out off the penultimate ball of the chase.
“Not really. Come on man, it is the Universe Boss batting, how can I be nervous. I might give you a heart attack, I thought I had it in the bag but stranger things have happened in cricket. It was a good innings, first in IPL and now I can make myself available for 2021. I can get out of the bubble now and go,” Gayle said.
Usually an opener, Gayle batted at No.3 as Punjab persisted with the successful opening pair of Rahul and Mayank Agarwal.
“The team asked me to do a job and I deliver, openers have been batting well and we didn’t want to trouble that, Mayank and the captain have given us some good starts right through, the win was more important for the team. I thought it was important to keep fit, I don’t like being on the bench but I was enjoying it and apart from the sickness I have been getting fitter,” Gayle said.
– Kohli surprised –
Losing skipper Virat Kohli said that he was surprised that the match went till the last ball.
“It was quite surprising because it went down to the wire. A bit of pressure can confuse you, it was a good performance by Kings XI in the end. Things became interesting to be honest. They kind of let us come back in the game, because I think it should have ended by the 18th over,” Kohli said.
Bangalore, batting first, pushed Ab de Villiers down the order as Washington Sundar and Shivam Dube batted ahead of the South African and Kohli defended the decision.
“We had a chat, it (AB batting at no, 6) was a message about the left-hand, right-hand combination. Sometimes these decisions you take, don’t come off. But I think 170 was a decent score,” the Bangalore skipper said.
“That’s the idea, get your eye in and start hitting. But we were not able to put them under pressure. We take a lot of pride as a bowling side, but tonight was one of those nights, as it didn’t come off,” he added.