London - West Indies captain Chris Gayle
made a brilliant 88 as his side beat Australia by seven wickets in
their ICC World Twenty20 Group C opener at the Oval on Saturday.
The West Indies, chasing 170 for victory, finished on 172 for three with more than four overs to spare.
an early season which saw Gayle's commitment questioned as his side
were hammered in Tests and one-dayers by England, this 50-ball innings,
featuring six sixes and six fours, was a timely reminder of the
left-handed opener's quality.
Gayle shared a superb stand of 133
- the third highest in all Twenty20 internationals - with Andre
Fletcher (53) for the first wicket.
But the platform for victory
was laid right at the start of the match when Jerome Taylor removed
both Shane Watson and Australia captain Ricky Ponting for ducks in the
Defeat left Australia with a make-or-break clash
against Sri Lanka on Monday at Trent Bridge if they were to get out of
Gayle, who in the opening match of the 2007 tournament
became the first and only batsman to score a Twenty20 international
hundred, against South Africa, began the West Indies' pursuit by
driving the first ball of the innings from Brett Lee through mid-off
He then crashed the third over backward point for another boundary.
for Australia, Fletcher was also in good touch. He drove left-arm quick
Mitchell Johnson for four straight back over the bowler's head and next
ball lofted him for six over square leg.
Fletcher though should
have been out for 22 when he hit a steepling skyer off Johnson but the
normally reliable Michael Hussey, at mid-on, misjudged the chance and
the ball dropped over his head.
Gayle then brought up the West
Indies' fifty with a majestic six off Lee that soared out of the ground
and two balls later struck the fast bowler for another huge drive.
Lee no-ball was smashed over extra-cover and then, even more
ferociously, Gayle drove the next delivery down the ground for four.
Gayle then pulled Lee for six to end a fifth over where 27 runs were scored.
In all, Lee's four overs went for a hugely expensive 56 runs.
without all-rounder Andrew Symonds, sent home after an alcohol-related
incident, turned to off-spinner David Hussey. But Gayle responded with
two sixes, over long-off and extra-cover, in four balls
then flat-batted Mitchell Johnson to the mid-wicket boundary only to
fall next ball when he skied the bowler to David Hussey to end a
32-ball innings featuring a six and seven fours.
West Indies were in sight of victory, and Gayle his hundred, when the captain holed out to Watson off Lee.
Australia slumped to 15 for three before David Warner's 63 helped them to 169 for seven.
chipped the third ball of the innings to Ramnaresh Sarwan at mid-off
and, after a couple of wides, Taylor had Ponting lbw hitting across the