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England blown away by Gayle tour de force

West Indies batsman smashes 11 sixes in 48-ball ton to chase down 183 for six-wicket win

16 March 2016 23:30 By Dileep Premachandran, Mumbai

He may be 36 now, but Chris Gayle’s competitive fire continued to burn bright as he started off the ICC World Twenty20 2016 with a blistering 48-ball 100 that inspired a comfortable victory against an England side that had piled up 182 for 6 in its 20 overs. Gayle smashed 11 sixes and five fours in a remarkable tour de force that left the result in no doubt with as many as five overs left.

Marlon Samuels had set the tone with a punishing 27-ball 37, but it was Gayle’s almost casual brutality that had the fans at the Wankhede Stadium dancing in the aisles as the West Indies won with six wickets and 11 balls to spare.

David Willey started the West Indies innings with two wides, before Johnson Charles slugged one straight to Moeen Ali at midwicket. After surviving two vociferous leg-before shouts, Samuels then clipped the first four of the innings through square leg. Gayle had a look at the first two balls from Reese Topley, before dismissing the next two, four over cover and a nonchalant six over long-off.

Samuels, who took up the bulk of the strike, glanced and square-drove Willey for fours before taking three fours off a Stokes over where he was also caught off a no-ball. With Gayle then crunching Chris Jordan down the ground, the West Indies took 55 from the Power Play.

The introduction of spin gave England some respite, as Samuels skipped down the track and lofted Adil Rashid to Willey in the deep. Gayle, who said hello to Moeen with a pull for four, was merely biding his time though, and in Rashid’s next over, he unleashed two monstrous sixes over long-on. At halfway, the West Indies needed 98 more to win.

A short ball from Stokes was deposited into the second tier of the stands at square leg, and the encore went nearly as far as the 100 came up in 11 overs. Denesh Ramdin then top-edged Moeen to short fine leg to give England a glimmer of hope, and the feel-good factor increased when Dwayne Bravo, who made just two, slugged Topley to deep midwicket.

But Gayle, who had celebrated a 27-ball half-century with an almost casual straight six off Moeen, was unfazed, lofting him for three more sixes down the ground to effectively end the contest. A withering drive and two leg-side sixes off Willey took him to 96, and the century, the third-fastest in the format, duly came up off just 47 balls. Gayle, in familiar black bandana under the helmet, celebrated on bended knee, before he and his side cantered home.

Earlier, after taking a couple of overs to assess the conditions, Alex Hales and Jason Roy had given England the ideal platform. Jerome Taylor’s second over was a ragged one that cost 18, with Roy pulling and flicking fours either side of five wides down the leg side. Hales then followed his partner’s lead with two meaty heaves through square leg and a cut for four in Samuel Badree’s next over.

That was the cue for Darren Sammy to bring on Andre Russell, and he struck with his third ball, a slower one that Roy (15) fetched to Badree’s left at midwicket.

Joe Root was his usual busy self, hooking Russell for six, and greeting Carlos Brathwaite with a leg-side biff as England reached 81 at halfway. He then cleaved Taylor over midwicket for six, but the 55-run partnership (40 balls) ended when Suliemann Benn, whose first two overs cost just nine, slipped one under Hales’s attempted cut. Hales made 28 from 26 balls.

Jos Buttler came in and slapped Badree over long-off for six, but Root’s dynamic 36-ball 48 came to an end when Russell’s slower ball induced a miscue to mid-off. That dismissal didn’t stem the tide though, as Morgan announced his arrival with a beefy pull behind square for six.

Benn went for 14 in his third over, with Buttler striking a massive blow over midwicket, and Bravo’s return saw a slog over wide long-on for six more. But the attempted encore off a full toss found Brathwaite at deep square leg, and Buttler was on his way after 30 in just 20 balls.

Stokes’s seven-ball 15 included a huge six off Russell, over midwicket, and a bullet straight-drive off Bravo, before he missed a slower one to be trapped in front. Moeen finished off with a six and run-out, as England rattled up 59 in the final five overs. Morgan remained unbeaten on a 14-ball 27. On another day, 182 might have been enough. But against Gayle in this mood, no target can be considered safe.

For full scorecard of the match, click here.