Chris Gayle ton leaves Kings XI Punjab skipper Ravichandran Ashwin ‘speechless’
The bowling unit of Sunrisers Hyderabad in the ongoing Indian Premier League (IPL) was hailed as the most balanced by a lot of experts until Chris Gayle blew them away with a fiery 63-ball unbeaten knock of 104 runs, powering Kings XI Punjab to a 15-run win in Mohali on Thursday. (HIGHLIGHTS)
Benched in the first two games, he announced his entry into the Kings XI Punjab team with a match-winning half century against Chennai Super Kings in the last game in Mohali and on Thursday, the Jamaican did one better against Sunrisers Hyderabad by smashing first century of the tournament. (SCORECARD)
Speaking after the win, a satisfied Kings XI Punjab captain Ravichandran Ashwin praised Gayle’s knock and said, “Chris batted beautifully and took it away from them. It is more about who we play and what works best. It is about doing well in the Powerplay. For example Mohit vs Dhawan was a clean match-up. It was extremely pleasing to see the crowd cheering us, we have never seen this in Mohali. Chris entertained them. One word won’t be enough to describe his knock. His style is hard to replicate, when it comes off, it is hard to match it.”
It was Gayle’s sixth century in IPL, his 21st in T20s overall. He saw off Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s first spell and later unleashed a brutal assault on Rashid Khan’s leg-spin to finish with a strike-rate of 165.07.
“This was a complete performance. We could have conceded 10 runs lesser to work on the net run rate, but it did not happen but we are still happy. We thought giving them a reasonable score to chase is something we could handle at the back end,” added Ashwin, who went wicket-less in the game.
With this win, Kings XI Punjab are placed at third spot in the points table with six points in their kitty. Kolkata Knight Riders are at the top and Sunrisers Hyderabad at second place with six points each and better run-rate.
“We had plans for Chris and had aimed to bowl in the right areas to keep in check but he outplayed us. His plans were executed in a better manner,” felt Sunrisers Hyderabad fast bowler Siddharth Kaul.
A 63-ball unbeaten 104 and each of Gayle’s 11 sixes kept pushing Sunrisers Hyderabad against the wall.
“Hats-off to Chris Gayle for his stunning innings. We know what he can do. This wicket was not a free-flowing wicket. We can learn a few things from the way they bowled. They bowled a touch short, we were much fuller. Shikhar has been hitting the ball beautifully, he is got a role to play. Tonight, our loss wasn’t because of lack of effort. The lengths they bowled was superb, they used the big boundaries well. Now, we’ve to just look forward to the next game. There’s been a clear pattern of play we’re looking to execute, we did not do that tonight,” felt Sunrisers Hyderabad captain Kane Williamson, whose knock of 54 runs went in vain.
Gayle was the glue Punjab needed and their third win of the season now pitchforks them as the most dangerous side in this competition - something the visiting Sunrisers Hyderabad team will carry back home. A stinging 15-run defeat halted Sunrisers Hyderabad’s winning streak and will pose a few questions for them too.
“The margin of the loss was not that big. It was just 15 runs. We are still positive and one loss won’t damage our confidence. We would re-group and win the coming games,” said Kaul.
Sunrisers Hyderabad fielded England pacer Chris Jordan replacing another tall quickie Billy Stanlake. Kings XI Punjab surpassed the highest total of 147 runs posted by Mumbai Indians and scored 193 runs against Sunrisers Hyderabad. Leg-spinner Rashid Khan, who has had a successful outing in the competition, was hit for four sixes in as many balls that really broke the back of Sunrisers Hyderabad.
Meanwhile, Bhuvneshwar was the most economical among others, as he gave away 25 runs in four overs with a dismissal to his credit. When asked why Bhuvneshwar was not given the last over, this is what Kaul said - “Rashid bhai had been our main bowler in previous matches. Unfortunately, he was expensive today in his initial overs. We were aiming to get Gayle’s wicket through Bhuvi Paaji, Chris Jordan and myself. And we thought Rashid Bhai could bowl later after Gayle falls. However, he remained unbeaten and crushed our plans.”
Teams will now know Sunrisers Hyderabad’s strength indeed is their bowling but without Dhawan, their batting doesn’t really have teeth. Meanwhile, run-machine Gayle would have a great birthday bash for his daughter with his partner, post this extraordinary show with the bat.