Opener Chris Gayle hit an astounding and unbeaten 175 to steer Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) to a huge 130-run win over Pune Warriors in the 31st match of the sixth edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium here today.
Gayle literally pulverized the Pune bowling attack as RCB, put in to bat first, piled up 263 for five from their 20 overs. He hammered 17 sixes and 13 fours off the 66 balls he faced, reducing the fielders to mere spectators and leaving the bowlers completely at their wit's end.
The blitzkrieg by Gayle seemed to have knocked out all the fight from Pune Warriors, who did not even attempt to make a fight of it as they were restricted to 133 for nine in their 20 overs.
Steven Smith topscored for Pune Warriors with 41, while Mitchell Marsh contributed 23, opener Aaron Finch 18 and Yuvraj Singh 17. Mithun Manhas was unbeaten with 11. For RCB, Ravi Rampaul, Jaydev Unadkat and Gayle picked up two wickets apiece, while Murli Kartik, Rudra Pratap Singh and Vinay Kumar got one each.
Earlier, Gayle received able support from Tilakeratne Dilshan, who made 33 off 36 balls, with five fours, and helped him put on 167 for the first wicket.
Skipper Virat Kohli hit one six but did not last very long, run out after he had made 11 in a total of 207.
South African star A B de Villiers came on the scene and faced just eight balls, but made an amazing 31 off them, including eight fours and three sixes.
But today was all about Gayle, and most spectators, players, journalists and veteran cricketers who watched the innings were certain they had never seen anything like it and unlikely to do so in the future.
Several records were broken along the way, including the fastest ever century in the six-year history of IPL -- off just 30 balls.
The match started in overcast conditions and was interrupted by rains for about half an hour, half-way into the second over.
The rains stopped, the match resumed, and the West Indian star then unleashed what is called a Gayle-storm by cricket writers. You had to be at the stadium today to understand the full meaning of that term. From the bowlers' point of view, it was carnage, plain and simple, with no clue as to how to contain him.
Aaron Finch, who sent down one over and was clobbered for 29 runs, was clearly at his wit's end. He was also probably rueing his decision to ask the home team to bat first.
RCB began quietly, taking only three runs off the first over from Bhuvneshwar Kumar. Gayle provided some indications of things to come when he smacked Ishwar Pandey for two consecutive fours in the next, but then rains came and play was interrupted. When play finally resumed, Gayle picked up from where he left off, hammering Pandey for three more fours, making it 21 runs in all from that over.
That was more or less going to be the norm for the rest of the innings, though Kumar gave away only four in his second over and Dinda five in the fourth.
Over five from Mitchell Marsh began with two sixes and a four, and after a dot ball, two more sixes followed -- 28 runs in all. The shots were flowing to all parts of the ground, and deeper into the stands, and higher onto the roof. Gayle had already reached his 50 in the fifth over, off just 17 balls, with six fours and four sixes. RCB were 61/0 then.
Kumar conceded just one in his third over. Gayle made up for that in the next, sent down by Murtaza Ali, hitting him for two sixes and a four. Finch came on and gave away 29 -- four sixes and a four, plus a single -- and that effectively removed him from the attack.
It was Dinda's turn, and Gayle got a free hit. The bowler sent down a gentle full toss, and Gayle whacked straight on to the roof to reach his century, off just 30 balls, the fastest ever in six years of the IPL, beating Yusuf Pathan's 37-ball ton. At the end of 10 overs, RCB were on 128 for no loss.
Dilshan hit Pandey for two overs as 12 runs came off the 11th over. Gayle then lifted a slower one from Luke Wright over long-off for six as the batsmen took 11 from that over.
In the 14th over, the Pune bowlers tasted their first success when Wright had Dilshan caught by Murtaza at cover. The Sri Lankan had made 33 off 36 balls with five fours.
In Murtaza's next over, Gayle hit him for two fours and three sixes. The last of these, which he went down on his knees and hit over deep mid-wicket, took him to his 150 and Kohli, at the other end, bent and saluted him. At the end of the 15th over, which yielded 28 runs, RCB were 196 for one.
In the 17th over, Kohli got into the act, hitting Dinda for six over deep mid-wicket. But he was run out the next ball, with Dinda running across to short mid-wicket and throwing the ball to the stumps at the bowler's end in one smooth motion. Kohli was yards out of his crease. Off the last two balls, de Villiers hit the bowler for a four and a six. That over produced 18 runs and the next one, by Kumar, 15 runs.
Gayle and de Villiers continued to be merciless on the bowlers. de Villiers hit Marsh for a four and two sixes before he got a top edge for Manhas to take a catch behind point while attempting to hit the bowler over long-off.
In the last over, Gayle smacked Dinda for six over long-off. Dinda got some satisfaction, however, by dismissing Saurabh Tiwary and Ravi Rampaul as RCB ended up with 263 for five -- the highest ever score in T20 cricket, beating Sri Lanka's 260 for 6 against Kenya in the 2007 ICC World Twenty20.
As Gayle walked back to the pavilion, some of the Pune players came up and congratulated him, despite the knocking he had given them. Along the way, he had overtaken Brendon Mc Cullum's record of 158 -- scored in the inaugural match of IPL at the same ground on April 18, 2008 -- and now holds the record for the highest ever individual score in T20 cricket.
Gayle's 17 sixes was also a record, beating the previous record of 16 scored by Essex all-rounder Graham Napier against Sussex on June 24, 2008.
His century off just 30 balls broke the previous record of a century off 34 balls scored by Australian Andrew Symonds for Kent against Middlesex in 2004.
For Pune Warriors, Dinda took two for 48 and Marsh and Wright picked up a wicket apiece. The only bowlers who escaped the fury of the Jamaican were Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who conceded just eight runs in his first spell of three overs but went for 15 in his fourth, and fellow-seamer Wright, whose four overs cost just 26.
After today's win, RCB continued to top the table with six wins from their eight outings in the tournament so far, while Pune Warriors are placed eighth with two wins from eight engagements.
All nine teams in the league will play each other twice before the top four teams advance to the play-off stage.
Royal Challengers Bangalore
Chris Gayle not out 175
Tillekeratne Dilshan c Murtaza b Wright 33
Virat Kohli run out (Dinda) 11
AB de Villiers c Manhas b Marsh 31
Saurabh Tiwary c Marsh b Dinda 2
Ravi Rampaul c Marsh b Dinda 0
Extras (lb 3, w 6, nb 2) 11
Total (for five wickets in 20 overs) 263
Fall of wickets: 1-167 (Dilshan, 13.4 overs), 2-207 (Kohli, 16.2), 3-251 (de Villiers, 18.5), 4-262 (Tiwary, 19.4), 5-263 (Rampaul, 19.6)
Bhuvneshwar Kumar 4-0-23-0
Ishwar Pandey 2-0-33-0
Ashok Dinda 4-0-48-2
Mitchell Marsh 3-0-56-1
Ali Murtaza 2-0-45-0
Aaron Finch 1-0-29-0
Luke Wright 4-0-26-1