West Indies’ Chris Gayle in action during a ICC #WT20 match against England at Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai, Mar. 16. (Mitesh Bhuvad | PTI)
Swashbuckling opening batsman Chris Gayle smashed a sensational unbeaten century, laden with 11 towering sixes, to single-handedly take West Indies to a comprehensive six-wicket victory over England in their opening World T20 cricket match at the Wankhede Stadium, in Mumbai, Mar. 16, writes S.S. Ramaswamy. (#Cricket, #2016WorldCupT20, #WT20, #WorldT20, #ICCWorldT20, #ChrisGayle, #England, #WestIndies, #Gayle, #Windies, #Siliconeer, @Siliconeer)
Chasing a challenging target of 183, the West Indies romped home in 18.1 overs on the back of Gayle’s (100 not out) bludgeoning innings during which he brought up the fastest century of the World T20 cricket in just 47 balls, to better his own 2007 record of completing a ton in 50 balls.
Gayle also became the only second batsman in history to score two centuries in T20 Internationals after the recently retired former New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum.
Gayle, whose marauding unbeaten innings in the Super 10 Group 1 game kept the crowd at the Wankhede Stadium on their feet throughout, had hit his first T20 International hundred during the 2007 World T20 in South Africa.
The Jamaican left-hander struck 11 sixes and five fours today as he carried his bat through the innings. He also became the highest number of six-hitter in T20 Internationals with 92 in his name now.
After the early loss of his opening partner Johnson Charles (0), the 36-year-old Gayle put on 55 runs in 39 balls for the second wicket with Marlon Samuels, who struck 37 in 27 balls with eight fours, and 46 in 27 balls with Dinesh Ramdin (12) for the third.
Later, Gayle put on an unconquered stand of 70 for the fifth wicket with Andre Russell (16 not out) to guide his team past England’s total with 11 balls to spare as West Indies made 183 for four.
The six-hitting spree by the West Indian giant flattened England’s hopes as he was particularly severe on their two spinners—leggie Adil Rashid and offie Moeen Ali, besides pacer Ben Stokes.
Rashid was carted for successive sixes into the second tier of the stands by Gayle to set the tone and then smote Stokes for successive leg-side sixes before turning his attention to Ali’s off-spin to pummel him for three successive sixes over long on to virtually end England’s chances in the 14th over.
Earlier, Joe Root made an impressive 48 as England powered their way to 182 for 6.
Root struck two sixes and three fours in his 36-ball knock while cameos from Ross Buttler (20-ball 30) and captain Eoin Morgan (27 not out in 14 balls) also helped England to post the challenging score in the Super 10 Group 1 game at the Wankhede Stadium.
Other significant contributions came from opener Alex Hales (28) and Jason Roy and Ben Stokes, who both made 15.
For the West Indies, pacers Andre Russell (2 for 36) and Dwayne Bravo (2 for 41) were the pick of the bowlers.
Put in to bat, England utilized two poor overs from the West Indians in the power play to get off to a good start.
Roy took advantage of a wayward Jerome Taylor in the speedster’s second over as he hit two fours while the bowler conceded five wides too. In all, the over yielded 18 runs.
More gifts followed in leg-spinner Samuel Badree’s next over as he lost control to bowl a full toss first ball that was dispatched to the square leg boundary by Alex Hales. The next ball was swept by Hales to the same region and he cut the third to the cover region for four.
With 31 runs coming in two overs, England’s score raced to 36 in four overs when Andre Russell, who replaced the expensive Taylor, packed off Roy through a fine tumbling catch at short mid-wicket off a flick.
At the end of power play, England were 49 for one.
The arrival of England’s top Test batsman Root saw the run-rate kept at a healthy eight an over as he hooked Russell for a six and then swung and flicked Carlos Braithwhite’s medium pace for two fours off successive balls.
Root, playing in his maiden World T20, showed aggressive intent and outscored his partner Hales as England reached 81 for one at the halfway stage of the innings.
The second wicket partnership was worth 55 off 40 balls when Benn came back for a second spell to castle Hales—who had slowed down after the arrival of Root—with England on 92 in the 12th over.
Root departed after seeing England score past the 100-run mark, putting up a tame catch to mid-off after being deceived by Russell’s slower ball in the 15th over. He struck two sixes and three fours.
Buttler and Morgan then carried the score past the 150 mark and towards the end Morgan, who hit two sixes and one four, and Stokes helped England add 30 in the last three overs.