Gayle storm rocks Bangalore with fastest century, highest score in IPL

Bangalore, April 23 (IANS) After a spell of summer showers, it rained sixes and fours at the M. Chinnaswamy stadium here Tuesday evening under a cloudy sky as Royal Challengers Bangalore's explosive opener Chris Gayle scored the Indian Premier League's fastest century in 30 balls and highest score of 175 in 66 balls against Pune Warriors India.

Put in to bat first, the West Indian southpaw lost no time in setting the stands on fire with his blitzkrieg knock that included a record 17 sixes and 13 fours and remained unbeaten after being at the crease for all the 20 stipulated overs.

Returning to bat after a 30-minute break when a sudden downpour disrupted the game, Gayle raced to 50 in 17 balls with four mighty sixes and four 4s and to 100 in 30 balls with 11 sixes and eight boundaries.

Feared as the most dangerous batsman in the tournament, the Jamaican beat Indian all-rounder Yusuf Pathan's record of scoring a century in 37 balls while playing for Rajasthan Royals against Mumbai Indians in Mumbai March 14, 2010 and equalled the half-century record of Aussie wicket-keeper Adam Gilchrist, scored against Delhi Daredevils in 2009 while captaining Deccan Chargers.

Pathan currently plays for Kolkata Knight Riders, while Gilchrist captains Kings XI Punjab.

Not content with setting new IPL records galore or upsetting previous ones, including the fastest 150 in 53 balls, beating the 158-run in 73 balls record of Brendon McCullum of KKR against the home team in the tournament's inaugural match in Bangalore April 2, 2008, Gayle was involved in a record opening partnership of 167 runs in 13.4 overs with opening partner Tillakaratne Dilshan of Sri Lanka, who hit a modest 33 in 36 balls, including five hits to the fence.

At a phenomenal strike rate of 266.15 percent, another IPL record, Gayle stood rock-like at one end even as the hosts lost five wickets for a record 263 runs, beating the previous 246-run record of Chennai Super Kings (CSK) against RR in 2010.

None of Pune's seven bowlers could stop the lanky hitter from going hammer and tongs after them. Warriors captain Aaron Finch, who won the toss and elected to bowl on a flat batting wicket, had given up changing bowlers after every over as Gayle was unstoppable and the fielders could do little as most of the runs from his deadly bat were coming from sixes and fours.

"What a joy watching Gayle play! It was indeed a storm after rain gods opened up on a mid-summer evening. I lost count of sixes and fours he was hitting in every over he faced. He has set a benchmark for other openers and batsmen on how to play in the shorter-version of the game," beaming Ranjan Chakravarty, a director in a financial firm, told IANS in the pavilion.

Surprisingly, Finch did not ask reputed all-rounder Yuvraj Singh to bowl even a single over while Gayle took all the bowlers to the cleaners and stunned a clueless Warriors and reducing the tie to a one-sided contest.

"As this is the last league tie RCB is playing this month before going for (six) away games over the next fortnight, I took a half-day leave to come and watch Gayle play after I heard the home team will bat first. What an innings it was. Incredible! Never in my life have I seen such an awesome batting display, with a whopping 17 sixes. God knows, what he eats and where does he get that energy," hotelier Rashid Khan quipped.

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