Chris Gayle has called on Kings XI Punjab to continue to "give the Universe Boss to the fans" after his stunning maiden appearance in IPL 2018.
Gayle has the most sixes in IPL history, the best average and has twice been the competition's highest scorer for the season … but he almost didn't get picked up at this year's IPL auction.
After going unsold twice – having not been retained by his former franchise Royal Challengers Bangalore – the West Indian faced the very real prospect that his nine-year stint in the tournament would end, until Kings XI Punjab threw him a lifeline at the 11th hour.
Gayle sold for his base price of AUD$375K (for context, that's less than half the price of IPL debutant D'Arcy Short) and was made to wait until the Mohali-based side's third match to feature in the starting line-up.
When he finally got his opportunity, he made an immediate and mighty impression.
In the space of 33 balls against Chennai, he turned back the clock spectacularly, blasting 63 from the top of the order, including seven boundaries and four mammoth sixes, earning Player-of-the-Match honours for an IPL-record 51st time.
"I've never felt so young in my entire life before," Gayle said post-match.
"I'm feeling like (I'm) 25 (years old). The Universe Boss is back."
Gayle learned via text he'd be replacing Australia allrounder Marcus Stoinis in the line-up and was simple in his thinking before the match.
"This morning I got a text saying you'll be playing today so I grabbed the opportunity with both hands," he said.
"I've been waiting patiently, (and) I've got the chance today to make the best use of it.
"It's good to be back."
Gayle had the Mohali crowd in raptures, blasting seasoned spinners Harbhajan Singh and Imran Tahir into the stands, while Chennai's youngsters also felt the full force of the dual-T20 World Cup winner.
"That's Chris Gayle for you, once he's on the go he's not going to be looking for singles – once you have momentum you're always going to try and keep the bowler under a bit of pressure," Gayle said.
"The fact is that I'm here and the fans want to see the Universe Boss, so give the Universe Boss to the fans."
After two lacklustre IPL seasons that yielded just three half-centuries from 19 innings, Gayle is confident that form will follow him to his new franchise.
"The batting will always be there to be honest, it won't leave the Universe Boss until I call this game quits," he said.
"(The confidence) will never leave, I'll take that to the grave."
Gayle will get the chance to impress again when Kings XI Punjab host Sunrisers Hyderabad in Mohali on Friday.
Australian viewers can watch the 2018 season of the IPL exclusively on Fox Sports