It was just a matter of time when Chris Gayle would explode. He was having rather quite IPL8 from his high standards. Few days ago Chris Gayle had played one of his worst T20 innings ever. Chasing 210 against Mumbai Indians at the Chinnaswamy Stadium, Gayle hobbled his way to 10 from 24 balls. He was dropped form the RCB’s next match by skipper Virat Kohli
But days later at the same venue, against his favourite team – Kings XI Punjab- the real Gayle finally returned to his old self smash 117 off 57 balls in an exhibition of brutal strokeplay.
Chris Gayle was menacingly dormant since Royal Challengers Bangalore’s opening game this IPL season. He finally erupted on Wednesday, searing Kings XI Punjab with his volcanic century at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium. Gayle’s 117 (57b, 7×4, 12×6) was at the heart of RCB’s brutal 138-run victory, lifting the side to third place on the table.
Gayle finished with 12 sixes and seven fours as RCB posted 226. On the way, he surpassed numerous milestones. He became the first overseas player to register 3000 IPL runs and the fastest to reach the landmark. He also became the first player to score at least 1500 plus runs at a single venue – the Chinnaswamy stadium.
It has been a tough IPL for Gayle. He started with 96 against Kolkata Knight Riders but went past 21 just once in his next six innings, a stretch that included his painful 10 against Mumbai Indians. He has also missed game because of his balky back. There were murmurs that perhaps bowlers had finally figured him out. This innings was an emphatic rebuttal of that theory.
Inserted in to bat, the home team racked up an imposing 226 — the tournament’s highest score so far — before dismissing Punjab for 88. Mitchell Starc took four for 15 and S. Arvind, playing his first match this season, four for 27 as the second innings lasted all of 13.4 overs.
Punjab’s response began inauspiciously, with Manan Vohra exiting in the opening over. M. Vijay followed him to the dug-out soon, bowled by Harshal Patel. Arvind was only drafted into the RCB sqaud after injury to Adam Milne, but the Karnataka bowler’s display here was heartening. He accounted for Glenn Maxwell, David Miller and George Bailey in the space of some 15 minutes — all three batsmen losing their off-stump — as Punjab’s challenge fell to pieces.
Thirty nine for six turned to 65 for nine after Starc joined in the fun with his yorkers. Punjab sank to an embarrassing defeat and remained glued to the bottom of the table, with virtually zero chance of qualifying for the play-offs.
He wanted to entertain the crowd , Gayle had said after the toss. He would give them enough to last a week. Having skipped the previous game to rest his back, Gayle put his restored energies to full use, taking 20 runs off Mitchell Johnson in the second over. There were two tall sixes, the ball sent back with as much speed as it had reached him.
The Jamaican had his share of luck — he was dropped twice, on 27 and 53 — but it took no sheen off his spectacular hitting. Sandeep Sharma was walloped for 24 in the third over, during which Bailey shelled a mildly difficult catch running back from mid-off.
Sixty-eight runs came off the Power Play overs, before Punjab turned to spin. It made little difference, although Axar Patel will wonder what might have been had Manan Vohra not inexplicably dropped Gayle off the bowler’s first delivery on the square-leg boundary.
Axar was clobbered for two gigantic sixes in his next over, the second one rattling the sheet-metal of the roof. By the time Karanveer Singh came on, Gayle was roaring along at full speed. The leg-spinner was struck over the ropes twice in succession — not that any other outcome was likely.
At the other end, Virat Kohli had departed for 32, having played his part in a 119-run partnership. It did little to slow Gayle down, who raised his hundred off 46 balls. He pirouetted and thrust his arms out in celebration, much like Portugal’s superstar star footballer Cristiano Ronaldo.
Gayle fell to a fine return catch by Axar, even as A.B. de Villiers hammered Punjab relentlessly, his unbeaten 24-ball-47 leaving the opponent gasping. Only Anureet Singh emerged with any credit, giving up a niggardly 25 runs from his four overs. But it did not remotely affect RCB’s chances.