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Gayle swats away Aussies as West Indies storm into final

West Indies 205-4 Australia 131 (West Indies win by 74 runs)
  • @stephenbrenkley

With a remarkable exhibition of brutal hitting, Chris Gayle led West Indies into the World Twenty20 final yesterday. Extraordinary though it was, the coolest man in cricket – and possibly in the world – made it seem as though he was doing little more than swatting away pesky flies for coming too close.

Nor did he exert himself unduly in other areas. He never ran two when he thought one would do, which was most of the time, and could rarely be pestered to seek the strike. He faced only 41 of the 120 balls delivered by Australia and halfway through the innings he had sauntered his way to 26.

Even by his own peerless standards it took nonchalance to a new level. He was at his most animated at the end when West Indies had secured victory by 74 runs when he led his colleagues in a performance of the gangnam. It makes England's sprinkler routine, which was their celebration of choice at the time that they were top of the world, look the height of naff.

Gayle finished with an unbeaten 75 and crucially was aided and abetted by an array of other sluggers in the tournament's highest total of 205 for 4. West Indies began with a degree of circumspection but by the end Gayle and Kieron Pollard were engaged in what seemed like a private tussle to discover who could hit the ball harder, higher and longer.

The innings contained 14 sixes, six of them to Gayle, three to Pollard in the final over from the hapless left-arm spinner Xavier Doherty which yielded 25 runs.

"I said to him that I had seen his great effort a while back for Trinidad against New South Wales in the Champions League replayed on the television last night and that was the Kieron I wanted back," Gayle said. "He gave us it tonight."

It was a cute plan by West Indies on a much better pitch than that provided for the first semi-final. It had been watered and while it still took spin it had some pace.

Gayle clearly intended to stay there as long as possible but it demanded that his team-mates start and stay in top gear. It quite perplexed Australia which was presumably why Doherty ended up bowling the final over.

"We were aiming to get 150 to 160 so 50 or so more than that was a real bonus," said Gayle. Australia were in trouble before they started as opening batsman David Warner was engaged in a heated discussion with Marlon Samuels which needed the intervention of umpire Aleem Dar.

"I think Warner had said something to Marlon while he was batting and he was having a word back," Gayle added. "It's just that if we get it, we have to give it back."

Warner paid for his temerity by being bowled missing a cut to the sixth ball of the first over. There was no way back and by the eighth it was over as it was 43 for 6. Captain George Bailey remained defiant with 63 from 29 balls but it was no Gayle.

West Indies will play Sri Lanka tomorrow in the final that most neutrals craved. The groundsman was busy watering the pitch last night. It has the makings of some match.

Results and fixtures

* Men

Yesterday's semi-final (Colombo)

West Indies bt Australia by 74 runs

Final (Tomorrow; Colombo)

Sri Lanka v West Indies (2.30pm)

* Women

Yesterday's semi-final (Colombo)

Australia bt West Indies by 28 runs

Final (Tomorrow; Colombo)

England v Australia (10am)