KL Rahul, speaking to his Kings XI Punjab teammates Mayank Agarwal and Chris Gayle, recalled the time Gayle wanted to take Rashid Khan head-on during the 2018 Indian Premier League (IPL).
Snapped up by KXIP in the 2018 IPL auction after Royal Challengers Bangalore released him, the West Indies batsman had a point to prove. Ahead of the encounter against Sunrisers Hyderbad that season, Gayle told Rahul that he was especially interested in Rashid Khan because he doesn’t “like a spinner coming and staring me down.” And as it turned out, Gayle got his way.
In what was the first century of the 2018 IPL season, Gayle scored 104 against SRH – a knock that included 11 sixes. He took a special liking to Rashid, who conceded 41 runs from the 16 deliveries he bowled to the KXIP opener, which included six maximums.
Gayle’s hundred propelled Punjab to a total of 193 while Rashid returned figures of 1-55 from his four overs. KXIP eventually won the encounter by 15 runs.
“I remember one incident in 2018, he was hungry, we all could see it, boss (Gayle) was really hungry,” Rahul recalled on the show Open Nets with Mayank. “He was angry and hungry, and he told me before we were to play Sunrisers [Hyderabad], ‘If Rashid Khan comes on, I am going to finish him because I don’t like a spinner coming and staring me down.’
“He said, ‘You don’t do anything, just give me the single, I want to play all the six balls against Rashid Khan.’ That’s the first time I think I saw Chris [Gayle] saying ‘give me this’. I think he got a hundred that game, he just smashed him. You can just tell mostly when he is in the zone.”
Gayle went on to score 368 runs in 11 matches at a strike-rate of 146.03 in what was his first season for the Mohali-based franchise.