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Gayle special powers West Indies to victory

Opener smashes 77 off 31 balls to fashion four-wicket win against South Africa in first T20I

Gayle special powers West Indies to victory  - Cricket News
Chris Gayle smashed 77 off 31 balls taking West Indies to a four-wicket win.

Chris Gayle marked a triumphant return from injury to the West Indies side, smashing 77 off 31 balls against South Africa to fashion a four-wicket win for his side in the first Twenty20 International on Friday (January 9).

The West Indies had been set a target of 166, and Gayle's innings ensured it reached the target in 19.2 overs. Gayle scored 1 off the first six balls he faced, but that was all he needed to settled down. In the second over, he smashed consecutive sixes off Kagiso Rabada, and was on his way.

In Rabada's next over, Gayle took 17 runs off the young seamer. Wayne Parnell was given the ball in the sixth over, but there was no respite. Gayle smashed three fours and a six over point to reach a half-century off just 17 balls, equalling the record of the second fastest fifty in T20Is, to sit alongside Ireland's Paul Stirling and the Netherland's Stephan Myburgh.

South Africa eventually managed to break the 78-run first-wicket stand in the seventh over when Dwayne Smith (20) failed to connect with a reverse sweep off Imran Tahir (3 for 28) to be out lbw. 

Marlon Samuels was in next, and he kept up a good scoring tempo, although he played second fiddle to Gayle, who was in his stride. The duo’s 36-run stand took West Indies into three figures, before Gayle eventually fell to Tahir. South Africa could count the legspinner’s bowling among its positives, and Tahir had Gayle caught behind while playing a reverse sweep – but not before the over had already yielded two consecutive sixes.

 

Tahir later also accounted for Samuels (41 off 32) in the 17th over to finish with good figures of 3 for 28.

South Africa picked up wickets towards the end of the innings, with all of Dwayne Bravo (8), Andre Russell (6) and Denesh Ramdin (2) falling around Samuels as the West Indies went from 147 for 2 in 15 overs to 164 for 6 in 19.1 – but the Gayle blitz meant the wickets only delayed the inevitable.

Earlier, South Africa had got to a reasonable 165 for 4 thanks to Rillee Rossouw, who scored an unbeaten 51 off 40 balls, and du Plessis (38 off 20).

Morne van Wyk (17) smashed a six off Sheldon Cottrell in the third ball of the innings to make his intentions very clear. Rezza Hendricks fell after scoring 12, trapped lbw to a full delivery by Cottrell. Six balls later, Van Wyk was back in the pavilion too, caught at first slip by Gayle off Jason Holder. 

With South Africa 33 for 2 in the sixth over, du Plessis and Rossouw began the rebuilding job. The duo stitched together a 44-run stand in 4.4 overs before the captain fell. Du Plessis had lofted the ball straight to Holder at long-off but the pacer couldn't latch on and the ball sailed over the ropes for a maximum. The next delivery was smashed for four, but the West Indies and Andre Russell, the bowler, didn’t have to rue the missed chance, with du Plessis scooping a simple catch to Darren Sammy at mid-on.

That left South Africa 79 for 3 at the halfway stage, and Rossouw, who was batting at No.4, took it on himself to steer the innings through till the end. He also had a reprieve, dropped by Cottrell at short fine leg when on 30, and made the opportunity count.

In spite of the missed chances though, the West Indies bowlers used their variations well, and the ground fielding backed the bowling. David Miller couldn’t blast off in the fashion he's known to, and eventually, the home side ended up with a total that would need their bowlers to fire in unison. With Gayle doing all the firing, it proved to be too little.

To see the full scorecard of the first T20I between South Africa and West Indies in Cape Town, please click here.

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