Punjab Kings top-order batter Bhanuka Rajapaksa acclaimed all-rounder Odean Smith for his growth with the game over the years.
The West Indies batter has played 463 T20 matches in his storied cricketing career and amassed 14,562 runs in the shortest format of the game.
Gayle bagged 22 centuries in the T20 format (two in international cricket) and is the only player to smash more than 1000 sixes (1056) with current West Indies white-ball skipper Kieron Pollard behind him with 764 sixes.
Gayle was part of Punjab Kings for the last four seasons and the 42-year-old accumulated 1339 runs in 41 innings for the franchise. Gayle pulled out of the second phase of IPL 2021 citing bubble fatigue as the reason and didn’t participate in the IPL 2022 auction.
“We have nicknamed him ‘Baby Rhino’. He is so powerful. I don’t think he has still found the middle of his bat. Imagine what it would be like if he finds the middle of his bat. He can send the ball miles. We can’t compare him to Chris Gayle,” Rajapaksa told TimesofIndia.com.
Smith provided the finishing touches to Punjab Kings in their fabulous paced chase of 206 against Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) with a blitz of 8-ball 25. Rajapaksa, who scored 43 from 22 balls in that match, said Smith is yet to play from the middle of his bat and can be more destructive in the coming matches.
“Because Chris is such a legend in T20s and One-Dayers. He has scored a lot of runs and done so much for the country. I have seen Odean Smith grow as a cricketer. I have played against him too. It is so nice to see him adapting and performing when the team needs him,” he added.