Gayle hurricane flattens Australia (Lead)

June 7th, 2009 - 1:27 am ICT by IANS  

London, June 6 (IANS) West Indies captain Chris Gayle struck a hurricane 88 off 50 balls to stun Australia by seven wickets in a Group C World Twenty20 match at the Oval here Saturday.
Chasing 170 for victory, West Indies rode on Gayle blitzkrieg and Andre Fletcher’s sparkling 53 to finish on 172 for three with 25 balls to spare.

The signs were ominous for Australia right from the start as they slumped to 15 for three with Jerome Taylor (2-33) bowling a fiery spell.

Australia’s decision to bat under grey skies backfired as Taylor removed Shane Watson and Ricky Ponting for ducks with successive deliveries in the first over.

David Warner (63) led Australia’s recovery along with Brad Haddin (24), stitching together 66 runs.

Michael Hussey made a quickfire 28 not out while brother David struck three sixes, scoring 27 runs as Australia finished on 169 or seven.

The spotlight then turned on Gayle, who has gone out of his way to express his preference for the Twenty20 format compared to traditional Test cricket.

Gayle’s commitment was doubted when he extended his Indian Premier League participation and arrived just two days before his side’s Test series against England, who went on to hammer the West Indies in Tests and One-dayers.

But Gayle was unstoppable Saturday, leading his side from the front.

Gayle, who shared a brilliant 133 run stand with Fletcher (53) for the first wicket, struck six sixes and six fours.

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, was in his elements as he sent the Australians on a leather hunt.

Australia are now left with a must-win situation against Sri Lanka at Trent Bridge Monday.

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