New Delhi: Batting great Sunil Gavaskar expressed shock at the exclusion of destructive West Indies opener Chris Gayle from Punjab Kings playing XI for the clash against Rajasthan Royals on Tuesday. Punjab Kings skipper KL Rahul won the toss and elected to bowl first against Rajasthan Royals as he also named his four overseas players of the match where Gayle was left out.Also Read - IPL Auction Highlights: RPSG Group Takes Lucknow with 7000 Crore Bid, CVC Capital Bags Ahmedabad

Punjab decided to play with Aiden Markram, Nicholas Pooran, Adil Rashid and Fabian Allen for the crucial clash. Also Read - IPL New Team Auction: Twitterverse React to Ahmedabad and Lucknow Inclusion in the Cash-Rich League

Gavaskar lashed out at the Punjab Kings for excluding Gayle from the playing on his birthday and said the decision makes zero sense. Also Read - IPL is Proving to be a Wonderful Instrument in Globalising Cricket, Sourav Ganguly Reacts as BCCI Announce Ahmedabad and Lucknow as Two New Teams

“I am astonished that Chris Gayle is not playing. The fact remains, on your birthday, you need one of the stellar players of the T20 format. He has dominated every single T20 league and you drop him for this game on his birthday makes zero sense,” Gavaskar told Star Sports.

Apart from Gavaskar, former England captain Kevin Pietersen also lashed out at Punjab Kings for Gayle’s absence.

“I think he will be disappointed more than us. We can talk about it. There will be some questions asked. I don’t understand why you would leave Chris Gayle out on his birthday. I explained how much emotion he has and how excited he was.

“He was sporting a big smile. If there was one game you were going to play him, it was today. I can’t understand the thinking at all,” Pietersen said.

The Universe Boss turned 42 on Tuesday and many expected to him play for Punjab in their first match of IPL 2021 resumption but the team chose in-form Makram over him.

After opting to bowl first, Rahul said: It’s a no brainer, a fresh wicket with grass on. We don’t know how it will play and I prefer chasing. I was just telling a few people in the dressing room that it just felt like yesterday that we were playing IPL 2020. We have a lot that we’ve learnt from last year. We are all professionals and we have tried hard in the heat to prefer ourselves. Pooran, Markram, Rashid and Allen are our overseas players. Unfortunately, Chris Gayle misses out and Aiden has been in good form coming into our setup from Sri Lanka.”