In the final match of this season’s VIVO Indian Premier League at Mohali’s IS Bindra Stadium, the Universe Boss put on a real show. After a brilliant half century on his Kings XI Punjab debut against Chennai Super Kings, there was only one direction for Chris Gayle to go, and that was upwards. With an unbeaten century against Sunrisers Hyderabad, he blew one of the best bowling attacks of the season to smithereens.
Starting off his innings steadily, Gayle took a few balls to assess the conditions. But come Chris Jordan’s second over, Gayle finally started to break free from the shackles as he slapped the ball for a six and a four off consecutive deliveries. The Gayle Rail was truly on its way from here, and he got to his fifty in just 39 deliveries.
There was no respite for any bowlers whatsoever, barring Bhuvneshwar Kumar perhaps. The number one bowler in T20 cricket at the moment, Rashid Khan went for a staggering 55 runs – the most he has ever conceded in a T20 match – from his quota of four. Things really went pear-shaped for the Afghani spinner when Gayle plundered him for four back-to-back sizes in the 14th over of the innings, scoring 27 runs off it.
The thing which stood out in Gayle’s innings was the fact that he was playing a more watchful innings than usual. Rather than looking to blow every ball out of the park, Gayle was ready to defend the good balls, and also take the quick singles and occasional double. He got to his sixth IPL hundred and 21st T20 hundred in the 19th over with a single off Siddarth Kaul’s bowling, and instantly cradled his bat like it were a baby to celebrate – a century dedicated to his daughter.
“This hundred is dedicated to my daughter. Tomorrow is her birthday,” he asserted after his innings.
With 11 massive sixes and just the one four, Gayle scored an unbeaten 104* off 63 balls to take him to third place in the Orange Cap race in just the two matches, and also win him a Man of the Match for the second game running.
"A lot of people thought I'm too old, but after this innings, I have nothing to prove. Since joining Kings XI, (Virender) Sehwag told me to stick with the yoga guy and a massage guy. That's the secret, I guess,” concluded Gayle with that grin on his face that we have all gone on to know so well.