He is the kind of a player who does not believe in facial aggression but rather lets his bat do the talking. Gayle, who turns 34 today, is one of the most dangerous batsmen in the world today. He can contribute with the ball too, and has over a 150 wickets in ODIs, which most people tend to overlook, given his destructive batting style that leaves the opposition absolutely clueless.
He loves taking the aerial route while batting, and usually has more sixes than fours in his big innings unlike normal batsmen who prefer playing safe and finding the gaps. He has the unique record of hitting a six on the first ball of a test match. That being said, it doesn’t say that he lacks class and just throws his bat at anything. In fact, he is in a league of his own, which very few batsmen can hope to be in. Shahid Afridi and Virender Sehwag probably come close, but none have shown the brutality to tear apart the bowling attack, that Gayle has on so many countless occasions.
Here is a collection of 5 of his finest performances in cricket.
5. 107 and 3/25 vs Kings XI Punjab (IPL, Bangalore, 2011)
When Gayle stands in the limelight, then he stands alone. Nobody even attempts to come close to him, let alone equal him or surpass him. When he plays, everyone just sits back and watches. The IPL has been a very enjoyable journey for the Jamaican.
This particular innings he came out and started clubbing the Punjab bowlers for good. Most of his runs came straight of the wicket. He hit 9 gigantic sixes in his 68 ball inning, which saw the bowlers struggle against him mainly because of his attacking approach that was enough to unsettle them early on. Gilchrist sought to take advantage of his fast bowlers on a helpful track by bowling first. But Gayle had no plans to give in. Praveen Kumar, Ablish, Ryan Harris, Chawla – everybody was clueless against him. All bowlers had an economy of over 9 thanks to him.
Add to that the wickets of Valthaty, Dinesh Karthik and Chawla while bowling, and it completes the story of how a single man slaughtered an entire team. The RCB won by 85 runs and Gayle was Man of the Match.
4. 60 and 5/46 vs Australia (7th ODI Australia’s tour of WI, Grenada, 2003)
If anybody mentions Gayle, you think sixes. But this game, Gayle produced something different and equally special- a fiver. He claimed centurion Lehmann, Symonds, Clarke, Hogg and Lee to restrict the visitors to 245 when the other WI bowlers didn’t have much to offer. It is such a boon for a team when your opener can take 5 wickets for you, and then follow it up with a 60 run-knock with the bat to set the stage for chasing down the target successfully. WI won by 9 wickets and as almost always happens when Gayle plays well, there was no other who could have grabbed the Man of the Match award but the man himself.
3. 333 vs Sri Lanka (1st Test WI in Sri Lanka, Galle, 2010)
Gayle came, saw and conquered. Put into bat by Sri Lanka, the WI were powered to a mammoth total of 580 runs declared thanks to Gayle who scored more than half the runs. Having opened the batting as always, he finally left the crease when the score had reached a total of 566 runs. He partnered with almost all the batsmen in the line-up one after another, many of whom chipped in with 50s and 60s to aid this man in building his innings. He struck 34 fours and 9 sixes. He reached his double century in a blazing fashion the first day and played a steadier hand the next day to reach his triple ton and his best score in Tests, bettering the 317 he had scored earlier.
Sri Lanka were made to follow-on after their total of 378, and the game was eventually a draw. No prizes for guessing who the Player of the Match was- when he performs, it is as if all the others are so in awe of him that they don’t bother performing and just enjoy the show. This goes for the opponent teams as well.
2. 317 vs South Africa (Sir Vivian Richards Trophy, Antigua, 2005)
This was another special effort by Gayle. South Africa had put up a brilliant show with 4 players scoring tons and posting 588 as their first innings total taking a day and a half to make the runs. Gayle walked in, totally indifferent to the enormity of the task at hand, gave what he had to give and got out when the team score was 512. Take that for a single man reply to a gigantic total. Gayle played himself in initially and after he had established himself, played an elegant innings, reaching his first triple ton. He struck 37 boundaries. He resumed play after an overnight score of 185, and played steadily to reach his triple ton, unlike the previous day where he scored at almost a run-a-ball.
There were 3 other centurions as well, and WI ended their reply at 747. The match had run out of time to produce a result and the Man of the Match was a fairly easy call once again.
1. 175* and 2/5 vs Pune Warriors India (IPL, Bangalore, 2013)
This was by far the most destructive, breath-taking, and entertaining batting performance of the IPL across all its editions. Gayle hit 17 sixes and 13 boundaries, and scored a total of 175 not out, taking a mere 66 deliveries to rip apart a clueless Pune Warriors attack, which was all over the place. He smashed Finch for 29 in an over, Marsh for 28 in his over, and Murtaza for 45 in his two. Nobody had an answer to his power-packed hitting of the cricket ball. The other batsmen were only too happy to give him the strike, with only Dilshan and de Villiers getting into their 30s in a total of 263 that the Challengers posted. His sixes went to all corners of the park, and a couple of them cleared the roof too. The crowd earned back their ticket money many times over.
Many records were shattered. Gayle scored the fastest century (30 balls), struck the highest number of sixes and achieved the highest individual score in the format.
As if this carnage wasn’t enough, Gayle ended the day by claiming 2 wickets in his first and the innings’ last over. The match belonged to him and him alone. He played, everyone else watched. PWI lost by a 130 runs what was an entirely forgettable match for them.