Superstar Chris Gayle dispelled any lingering notions his powers were on the wane by lashing an imperious hundred, to fire Kings XI Punjab to a 15-run victory over Sunrisers Hyderabad Thursday.
The 38-year-old, in his first season with Kings XI after being released by Royal Challengers Bangalore, ended with an unbeaten 104 from 63 balls as the hosts rattled up 193 for three off their 20 overs at the IS Bindra Stadium.
In reply, Manish Pandey top-scored with 57 while captain Kane Williamson got 54 but Sunrisers were restricted to 178 for four, to suffer their first defeat of the Indian Premier League season.
At the heart of the Kings XI victory, however, was Gayle’s monumental century – his 21st in T20s and sixth in the IPL – which handed him his second successive Man-of-the-Match honour following his match-winning half-century against Chennai Super Kings last Sunday.
The Windies veteran took a measured approach initially, gathering his first fifty off 39 balls before going on an all out assault to reach three figures off just another 19 deliveries.
All told, he belted 11 sixes and a single four, reserving his wrath for exciting Afghan leg-spinner Rashid Khan who he smashed for 42 runs off the 16 deliveries he faced.
Dropped on 14 off Rashid in the fifth over, Gayle made Sunrisers pay dearly for the error. He twice cleared the ropes on the leg side in the same over and then ripped apart the 19-year-old Rashid in the 14th over, bludgeoning four consecutive sixes as the over gushed 27 runs.
The Jamaican deposited seamer Bhuvneshwar Kumar over long the ropes at long off to race to 99 in the 18th over before raising his landmark with a single behind point in the following over.
Along the way, Gayle put on 53 for the first wicket with Lokesh Rahul (18) and added a further 85 for the third wicket with Karun Nair (31).
Sunrisers’ run chase started disastrously when Shikhar Dhawan retired hurt without scoring after being struck on the elbow by the fifth delivery of the innings from pacer Barinder Sran.
Seamer Mohit Sharma (2-51) then bowled the other opener Wriddhiman Saha for six and not even a 76-run, third wicket stand between Williamson and Pandey could rescue Sunrisers.