Mitchell Johnson - did you ever turn up?
Demoralise the opposition's spearhead, who also happens to be one of the most destructive bowlers in the world - that was Gayle's plan when he hammered two sixes and two boundaries in Johnson's first over. It was a brutal assault and kickstarted the Royal Challengers innings. Johnson offered Gayle everything Sandeep Sharma had not in the opening over of the game, when three of the first four balls had swung away to beat the bat. As soon as Johnson offered pace on a length, Gayle cleared his front leg to hit two straight sixes and then pulled for four. Johnson was so predictable that Gayle was able to calmly duck a bouncer to end an over that cost 20 runs.
Tearing apart the plan book
It was not just bowlers Gayle was dismantling, he was shredding Kings XI's strategies. Sharma could not find the accuracy of his first over and over-pitched frequently in his second. Johnson, however, continued to be the biggest disappointment of the evening: one of the world's most fearsome quicks, he looked jaded and unable to adapt. Johnson's failure was exposed further by the success Mitchell Starc, his Australian team-mate, enjoyed. Starc bowled full, fast, and kept a tight wicket-to-wicket line. A left-arm quick becomes exceedingly dangerous when he swings the ball both ways and Starc once again used that skill to hit the off stump for fun. Johnson was not able to move, cut, or seam the ball consistently. His short lengths and wide lines allowed Gayle to dominate.
No Plan B
The opposition fears such a Gayle explosion every time he bats, but there are times when he has been outsmarted. When Mumbai Indians travelled to Bangalore, Lasith Malinga slowed his pace down instead of feeding Gayle's strengths. He almost floated the ball through, egging the batsman to take him on. Gayle was stuck to his crease and failed to cope, playing one of slowest innings of his Twenty20 career. Kings XI did not show any enterprise to outfox Gayle.
Trampling the spinners
The absence of a quality spinner hurt Kings XI as Gayle exposed Axar Patel and Karanveer Singh's inexperience. Axar's career has gone places after he played an important role in Kings XI finishing runners-up in IPL 2014, but as a spinner his skills are limited because he darts the ball more than he spins it. Gayle was able to swing with freedom against Axar's flat trajectory. The legspinner Karanveer only came on in the 13th over, and his nervousness - RCB were 123 for 1 - resulted in a couple of wides. Gayle ended Karanveer's first over with two huge sixes and a boundary in his second gave the legspinner figures of 2-0-41-0.
Gayle can do patience
Gayle is hardly in a rush. He scored the fastest century of the season but of those 57 balls, 19 were dots. He did not mind rotating strike either, allowing Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers to dominate later in the innings. Gayle has proved he can bat deep, which is a terrifying prospect for the opposition because he can start fast, consolidate and then launch a final assault. He had done that at Eden Gardens too, where he was run out in the 19th over, having scored 96 off 56 balls.