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Batman man set to return

POPULAR: Chris Gayle in action for Royal Challengers Bangalore

WEST INDIES outcast Chris Gayle is a wanted man. Indian Premier League (IPL) outfit Royal Challengers Bangalore are working on retaining Gayle for the 2012 season.

While bigh-hitting Gayle finds himself at loggerheads with the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB), he is flavour of the month with the IPL.

Sidhartha Mallya, one of Bangalore's franchise directors and the owner's son, told ESPNcricinfo, "There are ways to keep Chris [Gayle]. We are obviously working on it and looking at every possible opportunity."

Gayle, an IPL replacement player, proved to be key for Bangalore in 2011, helping to halt a four-match losing streak and setting up a record seven-match victory run that eventually led Bangalore to the final.

Under current IPL rules, contracts for replacement players only include a year's participation, on the premise that the injured player will be available the following season.

New replacement players without three-year contracts must go into an auction where all the franchises would be able to bid for them.

Gayle's explosive performances with the bat - he was IPL2011's leading run scorer, and had a strike rate of 183.13 - are expected to trigger a bidding war should he be put into an auction.

“The crowd loved him and we thought that would have an effect but when you have players like Chris Gayle and [AB] de Villiers, it was easy for the fans to get over that and they have taken to the new side very well," said Mallya.

The Gayle-WICB stand-off was sparked when coach Ottis Gibson criticised senior batsmen following the team's quarter-final exit at the World Cup.

Gayle was subsequently ignored for the Pakistan series, along with fellow seniors Ramnaresh Sarwan and Shivnarine Chanderpaul.

Gayle travelled to India to participate in the IPL - where he was the player of the tournament - leaving the WICB disappointed since they were under the impression he was undergoing rehabilitation after injury.

Jamaica-born Gayle reacted by slamming the board in a radio interview with KLAS Sports, saying he had been left with no option but to sign an IPL contract since the WICB had disrespected and mistreated him by not checking with him over his fitness before announcing the squad.

He has not figured for the West Indies, despite attempts at reconciliation, since.

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