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The universe boss announced his arrival to the 11th edition of the Indian Premier League in style in the last match where he blasted 63 off just 33 balls against the Chennai Super Kings. But if that wasn’t enough, Christopher Henry Gayle went on to register his 22nd T20 hundred and his 6th in the IPL; against the Sunrisers Hyderabad as he made 103* off just 63 balls. A knock which included 11 sixes and just a solitary four, this was the first 100 of the season. With his wife and daughter watching him from the stands, the cradle celebrations once again lit up the PCA stadium in Mohali. Gayle of old, as we know, started slow, but once he got set, he made sure that Punjab reaches a big score as they finished with 193/3.
Whilst he was at the crease, Gayle showed that his hunger for runs was not finished, although he’s about to turn 39 this year. After he wasn’t retained by the Royal Challengers Bangalore this year, Gayle was neglected twice in the auction, when finally the Kings XI Punjab grasped him for his base price of Rs. 2 crores. In his interview with Kevin Pietersen post onslaught, Gayle said that he only wants to earn respect wherever he goes and that he doesn’t have a point to prove to anyone. As her daughter Crisalina will turn 2 tomorrow, Gayle mentioned that he would dedicate this special knock to her.
Gayle, in particular, targeted the Afghani leggie Rashid Khan who registered his worst ever figures in the IPL ever as he went for 55 in his four overs picking up the wicket of KL Rahul. After Gayle survived an lbw call against Khan off his first ball, thanks to an inside edge which wasn’t pouched by Saha either, he smacked him for 2 sixes later in the over. He followed suit with Shakib as well as he hit 2 sixes in his first over as well thereby bringing up his half-century in just 39 balls including 5 sixes and a solitary four. But he wasn’t done yet as carnage followed. In the leggie’s third over, Gayle slaughtered him completely, clubbing 4 back-to-back sixes. he brought up his century in the 19th over with a single off Kaul.
The fascinating part of this innings was the fact that he looked calm and composed right from the first ball. Though the knock included 11 sixes, it also saw gayle rotating the strike well, forming partnerships, not playing any risky shots and ensuring that he was there till the end to see his team through. With able support from Rahul, Aggarwal, Nair and then a brisk 14 off 6 from Finch, who too finally registered first runs in the IPL after a king pair, Gayle carried his team to just 7 short of the 200 mark.
Earlier KXIP skipper Ravichandran Ashwin won the toss and for the first time in this year’s IPL, did a captain opted to bat first. While Punjab fielded the same winning team from their last match against CSK, Williamson, on the other hand, announced that English all-rounder Chris Jordan replaces the Australian pacer Billy Stanlake. interestingly enough, the first innings was all about the batting heavy Punjab side taking on the strongest bowling lineup in the IPL.