Describing West Indian talisman Chris Gayle as one of the best T20 players by far, India wicket-keeper batsman KL Rahul said the kind of impact the left-hander has on Kings XI Punjab can only be felt from inside the dressing room.
“To have somebody like that, just the name itself, it shakes up an opponent and has so much impact. And what Chris has done for the teams he has played with, and Kings XI, is really, really unbelievable. If you were part of the Kings XI dressing room you will know what kind of impact he has had,” Rahul told ESPNCricinfo.
Rahul, who is set to lead an IPL side for the first time in his career when the 13th edition of the tournament starts from September 19 in the UAE, said Gayle has the ability to take any bowling line-up apart on his day.
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“He is somebody who is very, very open to talking to youngsters and helping other people out. He comes in with so much T20 experience. He is by far one of the best T20 players ever. You know that when he walks in and when it’s his day, no matter how good the bowling line-up or an opponent, he will take them down and he will win the match. So to have somebody like that is a blessing,” said Rahul.
Gayle, who started his IPL career with Kolkata Knight Riders, bossed the league after moving to Royal Challengers Bangalore. The left-hander then came to Kings XI Punjab a couple of seasons ago and there too he had an immediate impact.
“The partnership that we have shared, and the rapport we have, is brilliant. We share a great friendship away from the field as well. He is somebody who has always guided me. I have gone up to him and spoken to him a lot about T20 batting and opening the batting. He is a very deep thinker of the game – I don’t think a lot of people know that about him. They think he is just brute force and takes down [bowling attacks] and keeps scoring runs in T20s, but there is a lot of planning that Chris does well,” Rahul added.
The right-hander said Gayle’s guidance has helped him hone his batting skills.
“I get to understand and see that in the middle, and that has helped me in my game personally as well. To have him again this year is great. We have spoken a bit during the lockdown; he seems to be training really hard. He is keen to do what Chris Gayle does, so that is a great sign for us,” Rahul said.