Chris Gayle has hit six centuries in the IPL. The slowest of them, in terms of strike rate, was his unbeaten 104 off 63 balls last year, for Kings XI Punjab against Sunrisers Hyderabad.
Today, at the same ground, he finished one run short of scoring an even slower hundred. He was far from his most fluent during his unbeaten 99 off 64, and his hitting - which on his best days isn't fettered by who is bowling or at what stage of the game - was extremely selective. The innings followed an old-fashioned ODI template, featuring a distinct middle-overs slowdown.
By the end of the Powerplay, thanks largely to a 24-run sixth over from Mohammed Siraj, Gayle had run away to 48 off 23 balls, with six fours and three sixes. From there until the end of the 16th over, he hit only one more boundary - a leg glance off Yuzvendra Chahal - while adding 20 off 27 balls to his score.
A notable feature of his batting in this phase was his caution against the spinners, Chahal and Moeen Ali, whom he was happy to push for strolled singles to the deep fielders. Apart from that one four off Chahal, all his runs against spin came in singles (11) and a solitary two.
In the last four overs, he picked up the pace again, even though he didn't look at his most fluent - Mayank Agarwal later told the commentators that the pitch slowed down considerably through the innings. In the last four overs, Gayle hit 31 off 14 balls, with two sixes and three fours.
Overall, the bulk of Gayle's runs came off two bowlers, Siraj and Umesh Yadav, off whom he hit 70 off 30 balls. Of the other three Royal Challengers Bangalore bowlers, he only made 29 off 34.