It was the Chris Gayle show on Monday at the Daren Sammy Cricket Stadium in St.Lucia, as the southpaw scored a match-winning 67 to help West Indies gain an unassailable 3-0 lead against Australia in the T20I series. During the course of that innings, the Universe Boss also became the first player to get to 14,000 T20 runs, adding another feather to his illustrious white ball career.
Bowling first on the night, West Indies did well to restrict the Aussies to 141/6, with Punjab Kings all-rounder Fabian Allen and his spin compatriot Hayden Walsh Jr. doing the damage with some economical bowling. The duo conceded just 44 runs in the eight overs amongst them, while also picking up three wickets.
In reply, West Indies lost an early wicket as opener Andre Fletcher was dismissed in the very first over. That wicket however proved to be counter productive for Australia, as it invited the wrath of Chris Gayle to the cricket field.
It didn’t take too long for the Punjab Kings batsman to get going, as he welcomed Josh Hazlewood into the attack with a six and followed that up with three consecutive boundaries. The 41-year-old then began to pace his innings, before targeting the leg spin of Adam Zampa, striking three consecutive sixes off him in the 11th over. The third of those sixes also helped Gayle to his first T20 International fifty since 2016.
After his fifty, Gayle struck a meaty blow off Riley Meredith’s bowling, as he pulled him over deep square leg for a six that landed on the roof of the stadium. He followed that up with another maximum over cow corner, but ultimately Meredith had the last laugh as he dismissed him with a slower one with the final ball of his penultimate over.
Nevertheless, the damage was already done and stand-in captain Nicholas Pooran took West Indies home from there, chasing down the target with more than five overs to spare.
There are still some who might go “oh it’s only T20 cricket” but 14,000 runs is an unimaginable number of runs in a format where a batsman rarely faces over 40 balls an innings. @henrygayle is indeed to T20 cricket what @sachin_rt is to ODIs #WIvAUS— Bharat Sundaresan (@beastieboy07) July 13, 2021
“From a personal point of view, we all know that I was struggling, so it was pleasing to get runs. I want to dedicate these runs to my teammates, especially Kieron Pollard and Dwayne Bravo,” said Gayle after the game while collecting the man of the match accolade.
“To Kieron Pollard, he played a big part as well even though he played in none of these games. He let me know where I stand within this team and he wanted me to go and express myself. So I'm very grateful for that pep talk because sometimes it doesn't matter how great you are, you need a bit of a talk sometimes,” he added.
After a string of paltry scores, Gayle was back to his vintage best as he recorded 14,000 T20 runs with this match-winning performance. This return to form could also bode well for the future with the remainder of IPL 2021 and the T20I World Cup fast approaching.
Meredith makes merry
Australia may have ended on the losing side, but there was something to savour for pacer Riley Meredith on Monday, as he managed to pick up three wickets in the game. Meredith accounted for the wickets of Gayle, Lendl Simmons and Dwayne Bravo, ending with figures of 3/48.
Despite his relatively short International career, Meredith is quickly becoming Australia’s go to bowler when they crave a wicket, as was proof yet again on Monday in St.Lucia.