It was a dark and gloomy day, with clouds looming over the picturesque Manuka Oval in Canberra. Zimbabwe was playing against West Indies in the pool B clash of the Cricket World Cup. Having won the toss, West Indies opted to bat first. It was getting darker and there were fears that a heavy downpour might interrupt the game.
West Indian openers Dwayne Smith and Chris Gayle walked out to bat. There was nothing out of the ordinary. Zimbabwe got the start it wanted and picked up the first wicket in the second ball of the game. Smith departed without troubling the scorers.
As the game progressed, Chris Gayle and Marlon Samuels slowly built the innings. Gayle was like a sleeping giant, scoring his runs at an unusually slow rate. The skies grew darker, there were droplets in the air and everyone in the stadium could sense rain as Gayle reached his 100 in 105 balls. And then amidst those dark clouds, the giant rose from his slumber and started a storm that electrified Manuka Oval.
Christopher Henry Gayle reminded us of what he is capable of as he smashed the Zimbabwean bowlers out of the park, as he raced to his first double ODI century, clobbering 16 towering sixes and 10 emphatic fours.
The name Gayle, given its homonym "gale", is loaded with stormy meaning. The man has unleashed a veritable blizzard with his bat, with the white ball flying about like flurries of snow.
Yes, even the Rain Gods took a backseat as the Gayle storm hit Canberra. Gayle bludgeoned his way into the record books by becoming the first player to score a double century in the World Cup as the West Indies rode on the big hitting opener's performance. He smashed 215 off just 147 balls during a world-record 372-run second-wicket partnership with centurion Marlon Samuels. The swashbuckling West Indian is now the fifth player and first West Indian to join the double century club, dominated by Indians. His strike rate at the end of the innings was a staggering 146.25.
Gayle had a huge reprieve when he survived a close LBW appeal and subsequent review of the not-out decision on the first ball he faced. And as he built his innings to reach his 22nd ODI century, he cast aside the burden of his last 19 innings in which he failed to score a century even once.
The Jamaican opener was facing a lot of flak for not delivering his signature bazooka innings for the past couple of series. His innings came just days after West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) President Dave Cameroon embarrassingly retweeted a fan's call for the mercurial batsman to be pensioned off after another flop at the wicket.
Gayle has a reputation as a rebel and has often been at loggerheads with the West Indies cricket board, but no one can deny that when this player gets going with his bat, time stops to acknowledge his breath-taking strikes.
And with his feat against Zimbabwe, Chris Gayle became the only player in world cricket to hit a triple century in test, a double century in ODIs and a century in Twenty20 Internationals. He also reached to 9,000 runs, but that landmark got lost in the stock-pile of records that were broken on the eventful day.
There are a few couplets from a poem which come to my mind whenever I see Chris Gayle tearing apart the bowlers. The poem was penned by Altaf H Ladiwala, a letter writer and a satirist from Mumbai.
As Gayle hit a six
the ball touched the moon's lips
what are you doing? Cried the moon
don't repeat it soon
or I will move residence, put people in a fix.
As Gayle lifted the ball
it hit the stars, they had a fall,
you can't do that, cried the stars
your sixes will give us scars
you better start batting on Mars.