Kingston - Chris Gayle notched his first
one-day hundred against Sri Lanka as he led the West Indies to a crushing
six-wicket victory with more than 12 overs to spare in the opening match of the
three-nation international series at Sabina Park on Friday.
Replying to the visitors' modest total of
208 all out off 48.3 overs, the hard-hitting opening batsman delighted his
fellow Jamaicans with another dominant effort on the way to his 21st ODI
His 109 came off 100 deliveries and was
embellished with seven sixes and nine fours.
That pushed his team on to 209 for four off
37.5 overs and they earned a bonus point as well for reaching their target
before the conclusion of the 40th over.
That extra point is likely to be
significant in the latter stages of the competition, especially with World
Cup-holders and recent Champions Trophy winners India entering the fray on
Sunday against a West Indies team that will be buoyant following their
comprehensive opening triumph.
Any anxiety that home fans may have had
about the target facing them were erased by the confidence of Gayle's start.
The former captain dominated an opening
partnership of 115 by the 21st over with Johnson Charles, who rode his luck for
a supporting but struggling 29 before he fell off the bowling of left-arm
spinner Rangana Herath.
Ajantha Mendis eventually accounted for
Gayle via a miscued swing to leg, but the clever slow bowler, making a return
to the Sri Lankan side, did not materialise as the threat his teammates would
Darren Bravo was run out near the end for
27 and Kieron Pollard was unlucky to be adjudged lbw to Nuwan Kulasekara, but
by then the match was over as a contest and Marlon Samuels, with skipper Dwayne
Bravo at the other end, ensured that victory was complete.
Earlier, Sunil Narine returned to his
miserly, wicket-taking best, snaring four for 40 as Sri Lanka faltered after a
deceptively bright start to be dismissed for 208.
He had an instant impact on the match when
he came on in the 18th over, removing the prolific and experienced pair of
Mahela Jayawardene (52) and Kumar Sangakkara (17) in his first three overs to
immediately put the brake on what had been a promising start by the Sri
Jayawardene was at his fluent best,
dominating an opening partnership of 62 with Upul Tharanga before they were
separated by Bravo.
In contrast, Sangakkara never really got
going and the West Indies were understandably delighted when he pushed a
straightforward catch to Pollard at cover.
Ravi Rampaul backed up the frontline
spinner's effort with three wickets and it was left to Sri Lankan captain
Angelo Mathews to hold the innings together following the demise of the two big
hitters, his unbeaten 55 being the top score as he capitalised on an early bit
of luck when put down by Gayle off the bowling of pacer Kemar Roach.
Speaking after the match, Mathews
acknowledged that with Gayle in such a mood, his team's total was never going
to be enough.
"We needed early wickets and that
didn't happen," he lamented. "And when Chris is in that sort of
mind-set, no bowling attack in the world can stop and no target is too