Forget the threat of rain that hung over this match, the Kolkata Knight Riders were blown away by a Force 10 Gayle on Friday evening.
Chris Gayle, formerly of the Knight Riders, was back at Eden Gardens, doing his best to entertain the crowd. Except this time he was doing it for the Royal Challengers Bangalore.
Jetlagged after a long flight from the West Indies and playing his first match since the World Cup, Gayle scored 102 from 55 balls, completing his century with the winning boundary, as the Royal Challengers waltzed past the target of 172 with nine wickets and 11 balls to spare. "I know it was tough luck for KKR but I hope the crowd enjoyed the sixes that I hit. I have always enjoyed playing at the Eden Gardens," Gayle said.Big hits
A sedate start by Gayle - eight runs off eight deliveries as Tillakaratne Dilshan went after the bowling - was followed by brutal hitting that made no distinction between pacers and spinners, specialist bowlers and part-timers. The field placements did not matter much either, because the big left-hander was hitting them out of the ground.
His presence at the crease nullified the Knight Riders' most potent weapon — the left-arm spin of Shakib-Al Hasan and Iqbal Abdulla who were turning the ball into the left-hander. Gayle treated Shakib with the same disrespect he showed every other bowler, while Abdulla was kept away till the 16th over. Although Dilshan fell for 38 with 50 required, Virat Kohli stayed with Gayle till the end.
Gayle went unsold at the auctions in January because the franchises were worried about his availability. Even the Royal Challengers were unsure till news came through that Gayle had been dropped from the West Indies squad for the first part of the limited-over series against Pakistan.
"Honestly we didn't know. Only when Dirk Nannes got injured that we started looking for a replacement," said Vettori.
They got Gayle. What a masterstroke that has turned out to be.