New Delhi: You might get away if Chris Gayle is angry. For you know, he might give you a chance now and then. But god saves you if he isn't angry but looking to anchor the innings. That is very very very unusual of Gayle. On Thursday, Gayle appeared in a similar mood. Showing no nerves or anxiety to provide a fiery start, Gayle negotiated some good bowling in the powerplay and waited patiently to get deliveries in his range. When he actually got balls in his arc, he clubbed them hard, long and far out of the park. In Gayle's flesh, perhaps MS Dhoni's soul had entered looking to finish the innings on a high. In the process, he reached his 6th IPL hundred with 11 sixes and carried his bat through to take KXIP to 193/3 in 20 overs. Gayle remained unbeaten on 104 off 63 balls.
Even though SRH managed to start really well in the powerplay, KXIP eventually made up for the loss as Gayle went berserk in Rashid Khan's third over. He clubbed him for four sixes and two singles in the 14th over to collect 27 runs in his over, taking KXIP from 104 to 131. Where it looked that KXIP could reach only 170-180, Gayle's power play set a perfect platform for them to target at least 200 on a pitch that looked placid. Though they fell short by 7 runs, still it could prove to be daunting total considering KXIP bowling.
Gayle's hatred for Rashid began in the fifth over of the innings when the leggie nearly got him of the first ball. Gayle snicked a googly, which Wriddhiman Saha failed to pouch behind. After that, Gayle's onslaught was launched. Rashid looked to pitch a little fuller and Gayle went for the lofted drives. Both of them landed rows back in the stands.
The best part of Gayle's innings was the way he crafted his innings. He never looked in a hurry and made sure he was rotating the strike. He ran hard between the wickets by nudging the good balls here and there. And if he is doing that on top of striking big, the opposition team was always going to be in big danger. Despite him taking a lot of singles, Gayle's 10 sixes took his strike rate over 164.
Gayle displayed focus and showed hunger for runs. The thing to notice is that any ball which was out of his arc was pushed or dabbed for a single. Both Shakib and Deepak Hooda were hit for just one six each only when they went fuller. Gayle's image has been such that teams tend to take him on but on a night when he himself was taking it easy, there was going to be no mercy. Gayle was aware that the pacers would want to get him out and will bowl short as well. Just ask Chris Jordon how he felt when a couple of his short pitched deliveries were pulled with utter disdain?
Bhuvneshwar, who had delivered brilliant powerplay overs, struggled against a set Gayle in the death as he too was clubbed for a six to take him to 99. And he follows it up a single to reach his 6th IPL century. He gave the crowd every penny worth of entertainment.
This was his second fifty-plus score in as many games and his celebration of cradling a baby shows that he is cradling KXIP this season. Having not picked in the first auction, Gayle is showing that is the Universe Boss and packs a huge punch, even at 37.