Gayle’s century a clinical marauding act

The whirlwind knock of Chris Gayle that deflated England was a planned, calculated one.

Chris Gayle set about entertaining his friend, Sulieman Benn.   -  Reuters

On the face of it, Chris Gayle’s now usual magnificence in Twenty20 cricket seems purely electric. The truth, however, is that there is a method in his madness. How else has he collected 17 hundreds in a format where the next best tally is a measly six?

> Gayle's storm blew away England

The manner in which the Jamaican treated a clueless English attack on a dew-laden Wankhede outfield on Wednesday night beggared belief. It was as captivating as it has been to watch him bat in Twenty20 leagues across continents for some years now.

For the record, Gayle has scored T20 hundreds in India, the West Indies, Australia, England, South Africa, Bangladesh and Zimbabwe, turning up for as many as 18 teams. His tally of 8,826 runs in 239 Twenty20 matches is a whopping 1,828 more than second-placed Brad Hodge. His average is a stellar 43 and his strike-rate a brilliant 150. He has smashed 637 sixes, a cool 249 more than Kieron Pollard, and only 36 fewer than the combined total of Suresh Raina, Rohit Sharma and Yuvraj Singh.





By his own admission, Gayle did what he did to England because his drinking partner, the burly left-arm spinner Sulieman Benn, demanded that he be entertained. So much for friendship!

Quiet start

At one point, Gayle didn’t even appear to be in that ‘mood’, the batting equivalent of utopia we are accustomed to witnessing summer after summer in India, Australia and elsewhere. With just 22 runs to show after 16 balls, Gayle was happily letting Marlon Samuels do his thing. And, then, he felt like changing gears.

Blessed — Ok, he’s worked really hard for it but so have the rest — with the ability to hit the ball long, hard and into orbit, Gayle’s batsmanship is also about awesome footwork coupled with a clutter-free mind. Yes, it’s tidier than that of Virender Sehwag. Add to that a pair of quick hands and lots of power, and you have a one-of-a-kind batter. A real phenomenon, if you may.

Gayle is not a maniac. In other words, he doesn’t look to hit every ball out of the park. Stifle him and he’ll respect you, even find ways to not face you. York him, and he’ll block you. But, if you err, he’ll murder you.

 

Planned attack

Like a predator which meticulously plans its next move, Gayle waits for the opportune moment. At the Wankhede, that was time when Adil Rashid came on to bowl his second over. The required run-rate was soaring, and Gayle had had enough. Two sixes, one a photocopy of the other, raised the Wankhede’s collective decibels.

A couple of overs later, Gayle chose to attack Ben Stokes. Up until then, he had dealt with England’s short stuff rather cautiously. This time, he sent the ball over deep square-leg. The next ball fetched him six more, but only just. Joe Root flirted with the idea of acquiring drone-like qualities by leaping on the boundary, but the ball won the contest. That’s the closest England came to getting Gayle. The fielders were largely spectators for most part of the evening.

And, just like that, he got to his fifty off 27 balls. With 64 needed off seven overs, Gayle added another gear to his mean machine. Exit Rashid, enter Moeen Ali. By now, he was in the zone. All those needless wides proved costly. Not only did they contribute to the total, but they also left him annoyed.

Imagine someone taking you in front of a buffet spread blindfolded and with your hands tied. Ali would bear the brunt of his ire. Three consecutive sixes, two of those over long-on, virtually finished the game.

18 dot balls and 14 singles

In the midst of that six-hitting frenzy, Gayle also played out 18 dot balls and collected 14 singles. No twos, please, because it’s too much work.

Wednesday’s knock was special for another reason: the last time he hit a T20 hundred in West Indies colours, Herschelle Gibbs and Justin Kemp had spoilt his party. That was in the inaugural match of the inaugural World Twenty20. That was nine years ago.

Gayle has a lot on his plate. A meeting with Amitabh Bachchan, planned on Twitter, is just around the corner.

MUMBAI MAYHEM

Chris Gayle’s knock — 100 not out of 48 balls — was so brilliant it’s worth representing in its purest form…

004600000401141166101006611641000666104606110110

DID YOU KNOW?

1) Gayle has hit 93 sixes in Twenty20 Internationals, beating Brendon McCullum’s record of 91. He has done so by playing 25 fewer games.

2) His 11 sixes are the most in an innings at the World T20 and the third most in all T20 Internationals after Aaron Finch’s 14 and Richard Levi’s 13. Gayle also occupies the fourth spot with 10 sixes.

3) His 47-ball century is the joint-third-fastest in T20 Internationals. The record is held by Richard Levi (45 balls). Faf du Plessis is next best (46 balls). Like Gayle, Finch also took 47 deliveries.