Chris Gayle marked his return to West Indies action by smashing England’s bowlers out of the park several times. His efforts in the home side’s losing cause earns him Wednesday’s Play of the Day award, writes ANITHA MADIKIZELA.
The iconic opener helped West Indies to their highest score against England with a swashbuckling 135 that included three fours and 12 magnificent sixes. The home side posted a challenging 360-8 off their allotted overs, but the Pommies managed to chase the target down with six wickets in hand and eight balls to spare.
Gayle’s innings began slowly with a laboured 12 singles off his first 36 balls before the big-hitter decided to flex his muscles. Once the floodgates opened, the destructive left-hander raced to a run-a-ball century in a scintillating display of power hitting. Moeen Ali and Liam Plunkett took the most punishment as the pair leaked 139 runs from their combined 16 overs, with no reward.
There's the wide smile 😄
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Gayle was dropped by Jason Roy early in his innings and survived another scare when Mark Wood failed to secure a catch off Rashid Khan (3-74) with the Jamaican on 125. The Englishmen finally dismissed him when Ben Stokes (3-37) rattled his stumps in the 47th over.
Roy made up for his fumble by scoring his own 123 (85 balls, 15×4, 3×6) before Darren Bravo pulled off a fantastic forward-diving catch off the opener’s edge. The fielding would not prove a strong point for either team as both sides showed poor displays in the Kensington Oval outfield. Joe Root (102) and Eoin Morgan (65) combined for a stunning 116-run partnership to help carry the visitors to the finish line.
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Gayle’s 12 towering sixes forced the umpires to replace the ball on numerous occasions, as the big-hitter repeatedly smashed the ball out of the park, contributing to the home side’s record-breaking 23 sixes in the innings. Their tally was the most by any team in ODI cricket.
The West Indies will hope to bounce back in the second ODI on Friday at the same venue to prevent England from taking a stranglehold on the five-match series.
Photo: Gareth Copley/Getty Images