Chris Gayle lit up cricket’s World Twenty20 on Wednesday when blasting the third-fastest century ever in T20 internationals, with a sensational 47-ball hundred in the West Indies’ victory over England. Gayle has been the batsman to most embrace cricket’s shortest format most since its introduction. And thus it was apt that he became the first man to hit two centuries in World T20s, following on from his effort in 2007, the first ever in the format.
Gayle’s knock guided the West Indies to what in the end was a comfortable victory by six wickets with 11 balls remaining. England had appeared to have posted a highly competitive total when racking up 182 from their 20 overs, but when facing Gayle in peak form no score is safe. For a time it appeared the biggest barrier to the 36-year-old guiding his team to victory would be whether anyone could hang around long enough alongside him. Opener Johnson Charles went for a duck, while Martin Samuels was dismissed for 37.
But such was Gayle’s prowess that it didn’t matter. After Samuel’s dismissal, Gayle took the full burden on himself and began blasting England’s bowlers all over the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai. Indeed, he seemed engaged in a personal contest to try and clear the roof of the stadium. Moen Ali suffered particularly harshly, seeing three straight deliveries being hit for six in one painful over. In all, Gayle plundered 11 sixes to go along with five fours.
Not rated as one of the favorites coming into the competition, the West Indies will now fancy their chances of at least making it out of the Super 10 group stage and into the semifinals. And, if Gayle remains in this form, few will write them off from adding to the World T20 title they won in 2012.