Veteran West Indies batsman and a T20 phenom, Chris Gayle, on Tuesday celebrated his 42nd birthday. And with Punjab Kings (PBKS) having their Indian Premier League (IPL) 2021 fixture on the same day, against Rajasthan Royals at the Dubai International Stadium, Gayle was expected in the XI for the clash. However, the 'Universe Boss' was dropped, leaving many, including former cricketers criticising Punjab's playing XI.
Newly-picked South African batsman Aiden Markram made way for Gayle at No.3 in the lineup with Nicholas Pooran, Fabian Allen, and Adil Rashid being the other overseas players. Markram was roped in earlier this month as a replacement for England's Dawid Malan who had opted out of the UAE leg of IPL 2021 owing to personal reasons.
Former England cricketer Kevin Pietersen was left frustrated over Gayle missing out on the XI.
"There will be some questions asked. I don’t understand why you would leave Chris Gayle out on his birthday. If there was one game you were going to play him, it was this one. If he failed then you say ‘ok, you can have a bit of rest’. So I can’t understand the thinking at all," Pietersen said on Star Sports.
Indian batting legend Sunil Gavaskar was left astonished and opined that it made 'zero sense'.
"I, like KP, am absolutely astonished that Chris Gayle is not playing today. The four overseas players that have been picked today, can play brilliantly and win the game for Punjab Kings today. But the fact remains that on your birthday, you are leaving one of the stellar players of T20 format. Not just in IPL – the CPL, the Big Bash. You name it, every single T20 league he has dominated. And you drop him for this game om on his birthday, it makes zero sense," explained Gavaskar.
Gayle was part of all the eight games that PBKS played in the first half of IPL 2021, scoring 178 runs at 25.42.