Kings XI Punjab opener Chris Gayle scored the first century of the Indian Premier League (IPL) season 11, his sixth in the cash-rich league, during a T20 match against Sunrisers Hyderabad at the Punjab Cricket Association IS Bindra Stadium, Mohali, on Thursday.
Gayle completed his hundred off 58 balls, propelling KXIP to 176/3 in 18.2 overs.
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The 38-year-old Jamaican has the most number of centuries to his name and leads the highest-scorers' chart with a 175-run knock.
Having played 103 IPL matches, the left-handed batsman has scored 3772 runs at an impressive strike rate of 152.04.
Arguably one of the greatest exponents of T20 batsmanship, Gayle showed that he is far from finished en route his unbeaten 63-ball-104 that had 11 towering sixes and a solitary boundary.
Gayle's 58-ball-hundred incidentally is the first of this edition of IPL and also against a bowling line-up that is being touted as the most balanced of all eight teams.
Gayle moved to 99 with his 11th six hit off Bhuvneshwar Kumar over long-off. In Siddarth Kaul's next over, he dabbed the ball towards point to complete a quick single. As a mark of celebration, Gayle gestured rocking a baby in a cradle, with his wife and daughter in the VIP box.
The first 50 came off 39 balls and he took a mere 19 balls to complete the second 50.
"A lot of people thought I'm too old. After this innings, I have nothing to prove. This hundred is dedicated to my daughter. Tomorrow is her birthday," Gayle said immediately after his knock.
A cornered tiger can be dangerous and Gayle showed why he has taken the initial lack of interest of franchises to his heart.
Each and every six was signature Gayle. Minimum footwork and maximum power behind the shots.
It was the 14th over of the innings when Gayle actually turned the heat on. Already batting on 51, he smote leg-spinner Rashid Khan for four consecutive sixes. The first was over long-off, followed by a couple down the ground hits landing into sightscreen. The fourth six was slogged in the deep mid-wicket region.
"This is a good wicket to bat on, just have to go out and defend it. I am very dedicated. Since joining Kings XI, Sehwag told me to stick with the yoga guy and a massage guy, that's the secret, I guess (laughs). In a week's time, I will be able to touch my toes," Gayle said in jest.
(With PTI inputs)