Sublime Gayle thrills Sabina Park
Chris Gayle reminded West Indies fans what they had been missing with a stunning century to inspire a 55-run win over New Zealand at Sabina Park in the second one-day international.
The Jamaican opening batsman continued his impressive return to West Indies colours after 12 months out as he lit up his home ground in signature style, slapping nine sixes en route to 125 from 107 balls.
Marlon Samuels also reached three figures with an unbeaten 101 - his first ODI hundred since 2006 - as the hosts posted 315 for five.
It was a score New Zealand failed to chase with any real conviction, despite half-centuries from BJ Watling, Martin Guptill and Kane Williamson, and they were bowled out for 260.
Victory gave West Indies a 2-0 lead in a five-match series they can wrap up in St Kitts on Wednesday.
Ravi Rampaul was the pick of the Windies’ bowlers, taking 3-50 including the early dismissal of Rob Nicol as the hosts kept New Zealand comfortably below the asking rate in the opening overs.
Guptill and Williamson patiently attempted to lay a platform for a late assault but, when both fell soon after reaching their fifties, the tourists’ hopes evaporated.
Guptill reached 51 before pushing back a simple chance to Samuels and skipper Williamson was lbw to Rampaul on review for 58.
In-form wicketkeeper-batsman Watling gave the Black Caps’ score respectability with an unbeaten 72 from 62 balls, but the failure of the top order to replicate Gayle and Samuels’ centuries cost them any hope of victory.
Since returning to international ranks, following his public feud with the West Indies Cricket Board, Gayle had hit fifties in four of his five innings before a full-blooded assault today.
After Tim Southee had his opening partner Lendl Simmons caught behind in the third over, Gayle responded by launching Kyle Mills for three straight sixes in the next.
There was more to come and no New Zealand bowler went unpunished, with spinner Nathan McCullum’s early introduction to the attack greeted with another maximum over mid-on.
After his early hitting Gayle reined in his assault alongside Samuels as they built a 129-run stand.
With Samuels happy to tick the score over, Gayle was able to pick his moments to accelerate - with quickfire blows off part-timers Nicol and Daniel Flynn - before bringing up his 20th ODI century, from 88 balls, with a tickled sweep for four off Williamson.
Soon after Gayle launched Tarun Nethula for his ninth six but, with his ODI best 153 not out well in sight, the 32-year-old drilled a Mills full toss straight to deep midwicket in the 38th over.
Samuels made sure he fully capitalised on Gayle’s fireworks and, once Kieron Pollard and Dwayne Bravo had departed quickly to Southee who returned 3-55, he reached his third ODI century in the final over.