'It's been a great series for me'

VIJAY LOKAPALLY

WHEN he arrived in India, Chris Gayle had a few goals. He wanted to score at least two centuries on the tour. Cricket in the sub-continent is far different from the rest of the world. The playing surfaces offer the biggest test and one has to be a complete batsman to excel in such demanding conditions.

Chris Gayle, who made three centuries in the one-dayers, with the Man of the Series award.-AFP

Gayle has the guidance of skipper Carl Hooper who has always believed in the left-hander's potential. Hooper has looked at Gayle as a player for the future and the seven-match one-day series proved that the Jamaican indeed is a batsman with a lot to offer to the West Indies cricket.

At 23, Gayle has established himself in the team with Wavell Hinds as an able partner when opening the innings. The two form an effective pair in the limited overs cricket with their brand of aggressive batting. For Gayle, the tour of India was capped by a fine performance in the one-day series.

Gayle's sequence of 7, 103, 72, 140, 101, 27 and 5 was quite consistent. His explosive strokeplay left the Indian bowlers shattered as he drove them out of the firing line with some astounding shots. The three centuries he made is a testimony to his ability to force the pace. Importantly, the field placements did not matter, because Gayle's strokes carried the power to beat even the fielders on the fence repeatedly.

A strike rate of 81.50 shows Gayle as a batsman to watch for. In 59 matches, his aggregate stands at 2018 with four centuries and 13 fifties. His Test record is 1462 runs in 26 matches with a career-best of 204 against New Zealand.

The lanky Gayle, with an outstanding ability to destroy the opposition with his wide range of strokes, spoke to The Sportstar at Jodhpur on his experience in India.

Question: How has it been since the time you made a quiet debut in international cricket?

Answer: It's been a learning process. I've found it very exciting, playing cricket around the world. There have been a few ups and downs but I've learnt so much from the experience of three years in international cricket. There is so much more to learn when playing at home and overseas.

How beneficial has been the tour of India for you?

Oh it's been great. Very good I must say. I'm glad I've been able to get a few centuries and get my batting going. It's been a very exciting series for me. It's good to get runs and it's been very pleasing to get three centuries under my belt in the one-day series. The team did well and hopefully we can build on this. We've been improving as a team.

Did you set any goals before you came to India?

Yes I did. I can't tell you if I achieved them all. I had a few goals all right. I told myself to score at least two centuries and I'm happy I got them. But I must add the pitches in India were perfect for batting (in the one-day series) and it was great fun making those runs in front of so many people. It would have been nice if we had done well in the Test series also.

What sort of adjustments do you have to make in your batting style when playing in different conditions?

I can adapt to any situation. I have that confidence. It's important to have the confidence to do well in all conditions. As a batsman, you have to be prepared to play all sorts of bowlers and I've always believed that your strengths have to overcome your weak points if there are any. The bowlers are always thinking of ways to get you and you have to be on your toes to accept that sort of challenge. Run-making has never been an easy job.

How would you describe your batting?

I am a batsman always on the lookout to play my shots. It's been like this from the time I decided to be a batsman. I've always tried to dominate the bowlers. I aim at taking on the top bowler because that's what establishes you on the circuit. It's quite a challenge to do consistently well in international cricket.

How important is confidence for a batsman who wants to dominate and dictate?

You have to be confident if you want to stand out. To play the best bowlers you have to constantly back yourself to be the best. It is the key as far as I'm concerned. You have to back yourself to do well in difficult places. I must say that it paid off for me.

How would you assess your performance against India?

India has good bowlers so it is all the more satisfying to do well against them. It was a challenge when we arrived in India and I knew it won't be easy. I had heard of the tracks helping spinners and also of the pressure when playing in front of big crowds. But it was a great experience overall. The bowlers may have been hit in this series but you can't take away the fact that they are good bowlers. As a batsman my job is to always keep looking to score runs and that's what I did at the crease. My attitude has always been that once you stay at the crease runs will come.

How different are conditions in the West Indies?

Back home it's not really a batsman's paradise. It's a bit difficult to score runs at such a pace. In India the wickets were good, the ball was coming on nicely, even though the spinners were able to turn the ball in few games. Like I said it's been a great learning experience.

What tactics did you adopt to achieve such phenomenal success in the one-day series?

We knew India has a good batting line up and our aim was to clearly set up big targets. Which meant that the team had to have a good start and that's what I told myself. To give the team a good start. I prepared myself to hit hard in the first 15 overs. Of course it was also important to try and rotate the strike. The batting approach in one-day cricket often depends on the situation. But whatever the situation you have to keep looking for runs.

What are your thoughts on the tour of India?

It's been a great series for me. Very, very memorable no doubt. I had not expected this kind of success honestly. I'm still young and looking to progress as an all-rounder. I like to be involved at all times and I can do that if I bat and also bowl. Hopefully things will get better for me. The tour of India will give me the motivation.

What are your plans for the season?

I take one step at a time. As a sportsman you set goals according to your confidence and capabilities. For me it has always been series by series.

What are your memories of playing in front of big crowds in India?

Very pleasant. I really enjoyed playing in India. There is great passion for the game, great people. It was really wonderful. To tell you the truth I got my motivation from playing in front of such big crowd.

What do you do when not playing cricket?

I like to watch movies and football. And I like to watch television. I'm a TV man. I don't leave my TV and movies. I watch everything on TV.