05-FEB26-SPORTS-CRICKET-WEST-INDIES-ZIM-GAYLE-WCC-SLIDERWest Indies batsman Chris Gayle celebrates after scoring a double century during their Cricket World Cup Pool B match against Zimbabwe in Canberra, Australia, Feb. 24. (AP | Press Trust of India)

Chris 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 record-equaling 16 sixes to notch up an imposing 372 for two against Zimbabwe, in Canberra, Australia, Feb. 24. A Press Trust of India report.

Gayle smashed 215 off just 147 balls with the help of a staggering 16 sixes and 10 fours during a world record 372-run second-wicket partnership with centurion Marlon Samuels.

Former South Africa opener Gary Kirsten held the previous individual record with a score of 188 against the same opponents at the 1996 edition in Rawalpindi, while the legendary retired Indian duo of Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid held the partnership record, which they scripted against New Zealand in 1999.

Gayle thus became the only player in world cricket to hit a triple hundred in Tests, double hundred in ODIs and a hundred in Twenty20 Internationals.

This was Gayle’s first century since June 2013, the ton coming off 105 balls after the two-time winners opted to bat at the Manuka Oval. He reached his double ton in 138 balls, hitting Tendai Chatara for a boundary.

While his first hundred was a workmanlike effort, the second was Gayle at his devastating best, getting there off a mere 33 balls.

Such was the onslaught that West Indies smashed the hapless Zimbabwe bowlers for 195 runs in the last 13 overs, 152 of them coming in the final 10.

Gayle fell short of the highest number of sixes by only one, tying it with India’s Rohit Sharma and South African captain A.B. de Villiers. Gayle was ably supported by Samuels who scored 133 off 156 balls with the help of 11 fours and three sixes.

Gayle’s effort was also the highest ever individual score by a West Indian batsman, bettering Vivian Richards’ 189 against England way back in 1984.

The total gave West Indies a perfect platform to post their second win in the tournament and inch closer to a quarterfinal berth, after starting their campaign with a shock defeat against Ireland.

The powerful hitter treated the Zimbabwean bowlers with disdain as he recaptured his best form after scoring just 36 and four in his first two knocks at the quadrennial extravaganza.

It was the 35-year-old Gayle’s 22nd ton in his 266th ODI for the West Indies.

The burly Jamaican, who in the process crossed 9,000 runs in this format, was earlier fortunate to have survived a contentious referral for LBW when he was yet to open his account. And then he was also dismissed off a no ball, much to the Zimbabweans’ misery.