Assuming that there was no manipulation of the television cameras, Chris Gayle should have made only 1. In the fourth ball he faced, Munaf Patel's first, Gayle was rapped on the pads while pushing forward a ball that appeared to be heading somewhere towards the middle of middle stump. Fortunately for him, Asad Rauf, the umpire, didn't think so. Two balls later, Gayle flayed Munaf over the slip cordon, marking the start of a quite violent innings.
Gayle often appears to have decided what shot to play before the ball is even delivered. If he's choosing to go for it, he somehow, irrespective of the quality of the delivery, seems to be able to put it away. One of Sreesanth's floated deliveries outside off landed on the roof above the commentary box. Three balls later, Sreesanth bowled an exact repeat delivery; yet Gayle chose to let it go. Why? How? Forget explanations. Nobody knows.
Gayle admitted that his plan was to take on the new-ball bowlers. "Attacking India's new ball bowlers, both of whom are playing for the first time in the Caribbean, was a ploy," he said at the end of the day. "And that's why I got after them. I thought it would be good to put them under pressure early on and take advantage of the situation. And it worked. They started bowling in my area and I got a chance to free my arms. I had to capitalise on the situation and I made the most of it."
Considering he'd amassed 317 in his previous Test on this ground, 72 is relatively minute. "It was a good innings to get to 72 but I am disappointed to be getting out at a crucial time. I've been a senior player for quite sometime now and carry the responsibility of scoring runs. I am working on my consistency in batting and hope the team benefits from it. I thought it was a situation where when I got in, it was a bit difficult ... It's [the pitch] playing much better now. The ball is coming on nicely to the bat and it will suit the batsmen as the game goes on. It's a typical Antigua wicket."
What of the Indian bowling? "They are all capable," he continued, "and no-one can be taken for granted. They are still young and have a lot of energy to bowl fast. I am sure [Anil] Kumble can handle the pressure situations. [Virender] Sehwag backed him up well today." It was anti-climactic to see a destructive innings come to such a tame end - pushing limply to a straight one from Kumble and edging to first slip. It's strange to see Gayle handle far superior deliveries, failing to read one that bounced a tad more. But again, with Gayle one never knows.
Siddhartha Vaidyanathan is staff writer of Cricinfo