Chris Gayle slams IPL season’s first ton: Will teams regret snubbing a run machine?

New Delhi: Age is just a number and that is not just another empty saying. Chris Henry Gayle, at 38, sent out an affirmative statement – courtesy IPL 2018’s first century – that snubbing him in two rounds of auctions earlier this year could come back to haunt opposing teams.

Gayle, a proven power-hitter, had 19 50s and five centuries in IPL coming into this year’s tournament. On Thursday night, he slammed his sixth IPL ton off just 63 balls in what could have been a note of thanks to KXIP – a team that eventually picked him at a base price of Rs 2 crore. His unbeaten knock had 11 mammoth sixes and a solitary boundary, and made up for more than half of his team’s 193 against SRH. It was to be a total too daunting for a successful chase. And in the win, there was a sign that here may be a man ready to reclaim his spot as one of T20 cricket’s most unforgiving hitters.

Gayle’s unforgiving assault against opposing teams could just continue despite what many teams may have felt during the auctions. Not bidding for Gayle was one of the major surprises considering how much of an influence the Jamaican’s batting has had in the tournament in past years. Playing for RCB earlier, he formed a key batting pillar with the likes of Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers. And yet, the pillar was considered past his prime and with dodgy form not worth paying big bucks for. Were the changing signs ignored?

While it is true that Gayle has suffered from a dip in his form, he had shown signs of revival as well. In the 2017 Bangladesh Premier League, he slammed 485 runs from 11 matches for Rangpur Riders – ending the tournament as the highest run-getter. In the title clash, in particular, he hit a blitzkrieg 146* off 69 balls in an innings which had 18 sixes!

Although he failed to keep the momentum going when West Indies travelled to New Zealand late last year, Gayle did appear like a simmering batting volcano ready to unleash sixes at will at any moment. Inconsistency, not inability, was his faux pas. And with his IPL team now well positioned at No. 3 in the standings, Gayle has every reason to break free against rival teams, teams that let him slip by without raising so much as a finger. And if Thursday’s century is anything to go by, KXIP’s Preity Zinta and Virender Sehwag may just have got the best cricketing deal of the year!

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