All hail Gayle
West Indies opener Chris Gayle tore up the record books today when he scored the fastest century in the history of professional cricket.
Playing for Royal Challengers Bangalore in the Indian Premier League at the Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore, the big Jamaican massacred the Pune Warriors team scoring 175 not out of a total of 263 in 20 overs.
Pune were never in the game afterwards and replied with 133 for 9 to lose by 133 runs.
The destruction inflicted on the Warriors bowlers broke a series of records. Gayle smashed the fastest century in the format, brought off 30 balls; made the highest individual T20 score (175 not out); struck the most sixes by a batsman in a T20 innings (17); helped Royal Challengers Bangalore hit the most sixes for a team in a T20 innings (21) and reach the highest total in T20 cricket (263). In all his 175 took just 66 deliveries and he actually slowed somewhat after posting his ton. Gayle also struck 13 boundaries.
The helplessness of the Warriors’ players was writ large on their faces. Luke Wright smiled with trepidation when Virat Kohli took a single to give Gayle the strike off his bowling, Yuvraj Singh just shook his head as he watched one ball after another sail over the boundary rope and pretended to snatch Gayle’s bat at the end of the innings as he went over to congratulate him.
The only interruption to Gayle’s effort was a 33-minute rain interval. He had warmed up before that with two boundaries off Ishwar Pandey, and proceeded to smack him for three more in the same over after the rain relented. Unlike some of his innings this season where he was relatively restrained at the start, he came out prepared to attack from the outset today.
It helped Gayle that Warriors bowled to him on a length, allowing him to hit through the line and straight, with minimum effort that masked the immense power behind his strokes that cleared the boundary with ease. Only one boundary out of the 30 to his name qualified as a mis-hit, an outside edge past short third man. At least two shots cleared the roof, the shot that brought up his century hit it, took out piece of the structure and rebounded back into the lower tiers.
That Gayle was not going to hold himself back, having taken 29 off the fifth over from Marsh, was evident in his approach to spin when Ali Murtaza was brought on in the seventh over. Gayle decided to target the spinner with the turn, slog-sweeping and then smashing him flat for two sixes, then making captain Aaron Finch regret the move to bring himself on, hammering him for four sixes, all on the on-side. A rare yorker outside off from Ashok Dinda that Gayle missed was perhaps the only moral victory he afforded Warriors before reaching his century, a landmark he celebrated with a punch of the gloves then kneeling down and raising his arms.
Murtaza may just have felt he could slip in a relatively quiet over when Gayle had mellowed down, somewhat, after reaching his ton, but Gayle demolished those thoughts. He punished Murtaza for three more sixes in a 28-run over, as Royal Challengers began another phase of domination in their innings after a moment’s breather – the last six overs produced 85 runs.
Gayle’s innings was supported ably by opener Tillakaratne Dilshan, who was part of a 167-run opening stand, an IPL record, during which he only made 33. He quickly ceded floor to Gayle and played some attractive, text-book shots through point and down the ground. Unlike Dilshan at the start, AB de Villiers was the dominant partner in Warriors’ ruin at the death, thrashing 31 in just eight balls in a stand worth 44.
Each played their role in helping Gayle guide the innings, which he did with a big smile, good-hearted banter with the Warriors fielders during the carnage, and an animated reaction when he reached his century. He signed off in the match with agangnam stylegig at picking up two wickets in the only over he bowled.
Later Gayle said it was too soon for him to gauge the magnitude of his achievement.
“Words can’t explain how I feel, I think later on tonight when I am by myself I can look back and reflect on what I’ve done today. I’m grateful, overall from a team point of view, I’m really happy with the win, that put us on top of the table, just one of those innings, one of these days when you come out and things go according to how you want it to.”
Dilshan said afterwards: “This was something special. In my career this was the first time I saw someone hit the ball so cleanly. I was just standing at the other end and enjoying every bit of it.”
Finch watched helplessly as his bowlers, and his own bowling, was ruthlessly taken apart by Gayle. There were no qualifiers in his praise for Gayle.
“That was simply the best innings I’ve ever seen,” Finch said. He later joked: “Maybe we should ban him from the game. Maybe he’s too good, he hits it too far.”
Gayle’s 30-ball ton erases the previous 34-ball T20 record set by Australia’s Andrew Symonds.
The record in 50-over cricket is Shahid Afridi’s 37-ball ton for Pakistan against Sri Lanka in 1996 while the Test record belongs to Gayle’s fellow West Indian Sir Viv Richards, who flayed England for a 56-ball 100 in Antigua in 1986.†