World Twenty20: Chris Gayle leads big-hitting West Indies into final with victory over Australia

 

Chris Gayle overpowered Australia in West Indies' mesmerising display of sustained hitting as they surged into Sunday's ICC World Twenty20 final against Sri Lanka.

Gayle (75no) and his muscular team-mates dispatched the best Australia could muster to all parts, and beyond, at the Premadasa Stadium to pile up 205 for four on a fine pitch in tonight's semi-final.

It proved all too much for the Aussies, whose reply never got started and realised just 131 all out - despite George Bailey's blistering maiden Twenty20 international 50 from just 23 balls.

West Indies' innings was a six-fest. Gayle batted through, faced only 41 of the 120 balls - yet hit six of them for six, and five for four.

His stand with Kieron Pollard was especially brutal, as the pair climbed into Xavier Doherty's final over to carry the Windies' six tally to 14.

Johnson Charles went early, caught behind driving at Mitchell Starc, but Gayle and Marlon Samuels ensured a favourable powerplay of 46 for one.

The six count was a sparse three at that point, including the 200th of the tournament, but escalated as the entire Australian attack took some maximum punishment.

Samuels got greedy, missing a mow at a slower ball from Pat Cummins and losing his middle-stump.

But Gayle was joined by Dwayne Bravo and took 17 off one David Hussey over, including a squeeze down to third-man from the final ball to complete his 29-ball 50.

There was some respite when Cummins had Bravo caught at extra-cover to end a stand of 83 in eight overs.

Gayle was far from done with, however, despite seeing nowhere near a fair share of the strike.

He and Pollard battered Australia for another 65 in 25 balls, including four sixes among 25 runs in the unfortunate Doherty's last over of the innings.

It was hard to see how Australia could challenge the target set, still less so after David Warner was unusually given out bowled after consultation with the third umpire.

Samuel Badree's googly shaved the off-stump and dislodged the bail, a point proven only on video replay.

That was two for one, and soon to get much worse for Australia.

Samuels saw off Michael Hussey, collecting a gentle skier from a mishit sweep for a return catch before celebrating by punting an even easier catch to substitute fielder Dwayne Smith jogging in from square-leg.

Tournament top run-scorer Shane Watson also went cheaply, bowled after missing a pull at Badree - and just to be sure nothing was going right for Australia, Cameron White was then caught behind down the leg side off Ravi Rampaul's first delivery.

Rampaul (three for 16) had a second in the over, David Hussey getting in an awful tangle and presenting him with an unmissable caught-and-bowled, and Matthew Wade mis-swept Sunil Narine to go for a single.

From 43 for six, there was no hiding place.

Bailey (63) spared some blushes, as Andre Russell too conceded 25 runs in one over, but the captain's four sixes and six fours were a mere footnote because of the absence of frontline support.

PA

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