Chris Gayle blasts ton as West indies beat Sri Lanka by six wickets
Kingston (Jamaica): Opener Chris Gayle was at his attacking best as he smashed a 100-ball 109 to fashion an easy six-wicket victory for the West Indies against Sri Lanka in the opening match of the Tri-nation One-Day series here.
The big-hitting Gayle blasted nine fours and seven sixes in front of his home crowd to make an easy work of the 209-run target at the Sabina Park.
This was Gayle`s 21st ODI ton and third on this ground, the previous one coming against New Zealand last year.
Even as Gayle got out after bringing his side to the doorstep of victory -- the West Indies needed just 28 runs for win in 19 overs -- they lost two more wickets after the Jamaican`s dismissal.
But skipper Dwayne Bravo and Marlon Samuels kept their cool to see the hosts through for a bonus-point win with 73 balls to spare.
After helping himself to two fours, Gayle did what he is best at -- hitting Jeevan Mendis straight over his head for a six to get the local crowd on their feet.
That was just the beginning of Gayle`s assault as he hoicked Nuwan Kulasekara over deep midwicket for another maximum. The next ball was carted over wide long-off for same result.
Sri Lanka`s pace spearhead Lasith Malinga was not spared either as his fast bouncer flew off a top-edge for six.
Mendis was hit for two more sixes before Rangana Herath found himself at the receiving end of Gayle`s onslaught.
Gayle got to his century with a cheeky single to mid-off, got down on his knees, arms aloft, to celebrate yet another awe-inspiring knock.
Even as Gayle was making a mockery of the chase, the others looked intent on making a heavy weather of it.
While Kieorn Pollard was unlucky to have been wrongly given out lbw by fellow Jamaican Joel Wilson, Darren Bravo`s run out seemed unnecessary.
Earlier, West Indies rode on Sunil Narine`s 4/40 to bowl out Sri Lanka for a modest total despite skipper Angelo Mathews` battling, unbeaten half-century.
Mathews scored 55 off 77 balls to help Sri Lanka put up a 200-plus total after Mahela Jayawardene`s (52 off 52 balls) early enterprise.
Spinner Narine was the wrecker in chief for the hosts, returning impressive figures of 4/40 in 10 overs, as Sri Lnaka were bundled out in 48.3 overs.
Narine was well supported by Ravi Rampaul, who finished with 3/38, after West Indies skipper Dwayne Bravo opted to bowl on winning the toss on overcast conditions.
Narine picked up two wickets to put the brakes on Lanka`s scoring after Jayawardene and Upul Tharanga got them off to a steady start putting on 62 runs for the first wicket in just over 13 overs.
Pacer Rampaul then came back for his second spell to remove Lahiru Thirimanne and Nuwan Kulasekara as Sri Lanka slumped to 159 for six in the 38th over.
Earlier, Jayawardene hit seven boundaries during his run-a-ball knock, while Mathews found the fence five times.
After being sent into bat, Tharanga had made 25 off 43 balls before Bravo had him caught behind with a short of a length delivery that angled across the left-hander in the 14th over of the innings.
The experienced Kumar Sangakkara got the start but could not capitalise as he was sent back by Narine for 17 off 23 balls. But his long-time teammate Jayawardene looked solid.
While his first boundary looked patchy, Jayawardeene got into the groove with a typically elegant four between mid-on and mid-wicket off an overpitched ball by pacer Kemar Roach.
The next one, off the same bower, was dispatched through the deep extra cover region.
However, after getting to his half-century with a reverse-swept boundary, Jayawardene found his nemesis in Narine whose tossed-up offspinner got an inside edge and popped up for wicketkeeper Denesh Ramdin to take an easy catch.
The next big wicket came in the form of Sangakkara, Narine being the successful bowler again. The left-handed former captain pushed a flighted delivery straight to Kieron Pollard at extra cover.
After Mathews and Dinesh Chandimal added 36 runs for the 4th wicket, Chandimal was dismissed by Marlon Samuels for a 37-ball 21, innings that also included a six besides two fours.
Even as the others got West Indies the breakthrough, Darren Sammy completed his quota of 10 overs giving away just 34 runs to tie the visitors down in the middle overs.
Sri Lanka needed a substantial partnership at that stage and it looked like they were moving in the right direction before Chandimal gave away his wicket with his team score at 140 for four in 31.1 overs.
Even as Mathews battled hard for runs, Thirimanne and Kulasekara fell in quick succession to leave the Lankans in a spot of bother.
Mathews ensured that his team`s total wore a semblance of respectability with his dogged resistance.
Champions Trophy winners India is the other team in the tournament.