Gayle force to be reckoned with

Chris Gayle

Chris Gayle © Getty Images

South Africa coach Mickey Arthur reckons any side in the world can be blown away by Chris Gayle.

West Indies opener Gayle has been the star of the ICC Champions Trophy and ensured the holders’ passage into Sunday’s final against Australia with a masterful, unbeaten 133 in Jaipur yesterday.

It was the 27-year-old’s third hundred since arriving on the sub-continent a month ago, following one against Bangladesh on the same Sawai Mansingh ground in qualifying and another off England’s attack last weekend.

South Africa’s attack, so incisive in their Group B contests, took on a toothless appearance as West Indies eased to their 259-run target with six overs to spare.

“He is definitely a force,” said Arthur. “We knew if Chris Gayle fired we were going to be in trouble.

“He’s had a fantastic tournament and it is no mystery West Indies have done well on the back of him. If Chris plays well West Indies win because he scores his runs at such a good strike rate.”

Opening partner Shivnarine Chanderpaul weighed in with 57 before retiring hurt with cramp in a 154-run share.

Almost half of those runs came in the opening 10 overs as Shaun Pollock and Makhaya Ntini were blitzed.

Mickey Arthur

Mickey Arthur © Getty Images

“You need to get off to a good start by using those power plays,” added Arthur. “Pollock and Ntini had done so well for us throughout the tournament that opposition sides have not been able to get away.

“They have shown excellence up front but the batsmen never let them settle at all. They obviously came with a plan, they attacked our strikeforce up front and we probably did hit as good areas as we have done in the tournament but they never let us settle or allow us to get into the game at all.

“You can only be as good as your opponents let you be and I thought West Indies were very good. Hats off to them, they played the better cricket no doubt about that.”

Although they are second to world champions Australia in the one-day rankings, concerns linger about South Africa’s capabilities on the slow, low surfaces prevalent in this part of the world and indeed expected in the Caribbean for next year’s World Cup.

“A lot of people said we didn’t have the capabilities on the sub-continent, we put that to rest,” argued Arthur, following defeats of Sri Lanka and Pakistan here.

“There were more than enough positives, we have got a pretty settled squad now, guys know their roles and there is a hell of a lot of talent in our side.”