With a scorecard that would deceive many into thinking it was a One-Day International, Chris Gayle’s incredible 175 off just 66 balls led the rout for Royal Challengers Bangalore, who rode home with a thumping 130-run victory over Pune Warriors India at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore on April 23 (Tuesday).
Bangalore posted a mammoth 263 for 5, the highest total in Twenty20 history, to register their sixth straight win at a ground that has now become their fortress. Gayle’s belligerent knock had statisticians scurrying for their books, with most of the T20 records being broken.
Grey skies had made an appearance just before toss and a slight drizzle interrupted play for half an hour, but nothing could stop the Gayle show, and a capacity crowd were rewarded for their patience when play got underway again.
Put in to bat, Bangalore got off to a flying start with Gayle and Tillakaratne Dilshan putting up a record 167-run opening stand. Gayle went berserk right from the start, scoring the IPL fastest fifty in just 17 deliveries.
Ishwar Pandey, making his IPL debut, had an forgettable outing, being carted for five boundaries in his first over. Aaron Finch, the Pune captain, then took Bhuvneshwar Kumar off, replacing him with Mitchell Marsh in the fourth over. The decision took a beating as Marsh conceded 28 runs. Along the way Gayle surpassed Yusuf Pathan’s record of fastest hundred in IPL history, bringing up his century in just 30 balls. Pathan had hit a 37-ball century in 2010.
Pune tried as many as seven bowlers but much to their dismay Gayle’s carnage continued irrespective of the bowling change. Each of Ashok Dinda, Mitchell Marsh, Ali Murtuza and Pandey were clobbered, with only Luke Wright stemming the run flow in the middle overs. Bhuvneshwar who had escaped Gayle’s onslaught for most of the evening, also suffered in this last over, giving away fifteen runs.
Pune finally found success in the thirteenth over, when Dilshan holed out to Ali Murtaza at cover. But Gayle, joined by Virat Kohli at the other end, remained unfazed and continued to clobber the bowlers. Post Kohli’s brief stay in the middle, it was AB de Villiers’ cameo of 31 runs from 8 balls that added to the mammoth total.
The Bangalore crowd were greeted by a similar sight in the opening game of the inaugural edition in 2008, where Brendon McCullum’s 158 for Kolkata Knight Riders against Bangalore had pushed the home side into a disappointing 140-run loss. But Gayle surpassed McCullum’s score and ensured the home fans had something to delight in this time.
With the asking rate well over 13 runs per over, it seemed as if Pune had given up even before they had begun their chase. A top-order collapse – Pune lost four wickets within six overs with just 37 runs on board – dented Pune’s chase badly.
The only pocket of resistance came in the form of a 58-run fifth wicket partnership between Steven Smith (41) and Mitchell Marsh (25). Regular fall of wickets ensured that Pune couldn’t even come close to Gayle’s personal score, posting 133 for 9 in their allotted 20 overs. Gayle continued to entertain the crowd to the hilt, bagging two wickets in three balls when given the ball for the final over, prompting a mid-pitch Gangnam-style jig.
Ravi Rampaul and Jaidev Unadkat shared four wickets between them, as Vinay Kumar retained the Puple Cap as the leading wicket-taker of the tournament with thirteen scalps.