Punjab succumb to merciless Gayle
Royal Challengers Bangalore 205 for 6 (Gayle 107) beat Kings XI Punjab 120 for 9 (Aravind 4-14, Gayle 3-21) by 85 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Once every two years Bangalore hosts Aero India, the country's biggest air show, on the outskirts of the city. On Friday night, Chris Gayle took it upon himself to deliver a similar spectacle to the home crowd, which went ballistic while watching a flogging of a lifetime inflicted on Kings XI Punjab. As the deflated attack desperately sought mercy, Gayle celebrated his domination with a triumphant smile, propelling his team to a thumping fourth straight win with an unforgettable century that made a backyard out of the Chinnaswamy Stadium.
Adam Gilchrist, cheery as ever, decided to field on a pitch that promised assistance to his four-pronged pace attack. While he met Gayle's onslaught with a look of awe and admiration, his bowlers were what they looked - stunned into submission. The early movement and a spate of hits and misses in the first couple of overs were the few signs of encouragement in an otherwise dispiriting innings.
Gayle targeted the straight boundary, rarely attempted any cross-bat heaves or slogs, and relied on brute strength, partly a consequence of what is known to be a fitness regime that's ever the aspiration of the healthier than normal. Ryan Harris was the first recipient of Gayle's treatment, as he clobbered two consecutive sixes over long-off and long-on in the fourth over.
The Punjab bowlers erred in length, often doling out length deliveries, but most would have been unsettled by Gayle's ruthless approach. His initial movement was to make room and, depending on the line, have a free swing in the same direction. Praveen Kumar's skills with variations in pace were conspicuous by their absence as he dished out a series of length deliveries that Gayle was only happy to dig into. After launching him for two straight sixes, he cashed in on some misdirection to pick up two fours in an over that yielded 22.
Gilchrist had to turn to spin and he found the expensive Piyush Chawla, whose figures this season took further beating with two monstrous sixes over midwicket off long hops. Virat Kohli, in a fortunate yet largely mature innings, was only too happy to cede floor to his partner. Gayle directed his attention to Love Ablish, whose pain of rejection was felt in three consecutive boundaries, one of which was a streaky edge past the diving Gilchrist.
A half-tracker from Abhishek Nayar disappeared over square leg, and the returning Ryan McLaren, who had delivered Punjab their first breakthrough with the wicket of Tillakaratne Dilshan, was to bear first sight of Gayle's celebration upon reaching his century. He was hammered over long-on, followed by a disdainful punch through mid-off that brought up the landmark off 46 balls, Gayle's second this season.
Relief came when Gayle holed out to deep midwicket off Chawla, and Kohli was bowled two balls later, but AB de Villiers kept the innings on track with a typically aggressive cameo to leave Punjab with a daunting task. Such was the manner in which Gayle imposed himself, anything else was destined to be a sideshow. Punjab's innings turned out to be worse - it was a virtual non-event.
The signs were there when Gilchrist was brilliantly run out first ball by Asad Pathan while attempting a quick single, and as is the case in games decided by individuals, it wasn't long before Gayle stepped in. He cast aside his usually calm, sober self and reveled at every Punjab misfortune wrought by his offspin. Paul Valthaty spooned one to square leg, Dinesh Karthik was trapped in front and Chawla yorked. As Punjab limped towards a fourth defeat in a row, Gayle stood out amid the celebrations, fluttering curls, locomotive moves and all.
Siddhartha Talya is a sub editor at ESPNcricinfo