If at all anyone was wondering what can be more heady, a traditional Jamaican rum punch or a typical Chris Gayle knock, take it from someone who’s experienced both.
The latter will walk away with the honours anytime. For where you can consume say 4-5 of the punches in one sitting, if you want to remain standing that is, Gayle, as he showed against the Kings XI Punjab on Friday night, can slam as many nine sixes in a single innings and ice it up with 10 fours to boot, and all without breaking a sweat.
It did leave a bitter aftertaste in Adam Gilchrist after he had won the toss and put Royal Challengers Bangalore in. It all but turned poisonous when the Punjab captain found himself run out off the first ball of the chase, marking the beginning of their end. The visitors were restricted to a poor 120 for nine in response to the imposing 205 for six that Royal Challengers Bangalore came up with. The two points from the game and a healthy net run rate has put RCB fourth in the table, the first aim of all the teams in the IPL being to make the top four.
Man of the match Gayle’s 48-ball 107 (he also picked up 3-21 from his four overs) was best summed up by a comment in the press box that followed a superbly struck off-driven boundary by Virat Kohli off leggie Piyush Chawla — the man who finally got both batsmen out. “They saved two runs,” went the comment, meaning that had Gayle been on strike the ball would have sailed over for yet another six.
There was a case for the Kings XI bowlers to have done better but then when up against such extreme unorthodoxy that Gayle normally deals in, you have to pity the tribe. It all started after a maiden sent down by Ryan Harris, with Gayle facing all the six deliveries and managing a mere three leg byes off the final ball. It seemed to rile up the big man and off Harris’ next over, the mayhem began, all of 21 runs coming off it.
On more than a few occasions Gayle hit successive maximums. One such blow, off Praveen Kumar, who after the very first ball of the innings took to favouring the elbow that had recently undergone surgery, surged over the Chinnaswamy Stadium roof, necessitating a ball change.
Gayle didn’t exactly need any support cast, only cricket’s insistence of having a second batsman at the other end, forcing RCB to send someone along. Tillakaratne Dilshan, Kohli and AB De Villiers still played their parts in boosting the scoring that was set up and completed by RCB’s one man army.
One day the bowlers are sure to file PIL in an Indian court, citing unbearable cruelty at the hands of Gayle. Until then the mayhem will continue and so will Gayle’s unique style of celebration that was on display when he got to his century. India’s own marauder Virender Sehwag had got his ton on Thursday off 48 balls. On Friday, Gayle got there in 46. Whew!