Pune: Chris Gayle gave the West Indies something to cheer about ahead of the third and final Test against India as he slammed an impressive 154 in a warm-up match here on Thursday.
The 23-year-old Jamaican opener smashed two sixes and 23 fours in his 12th first- class hundred to help the West Indies post 297 for two on the opening day of a three- day game against national champions Railways. Left-handed Gayle put on 71 for the opening wicket with fellow-Jamaican Wavell Hinds (50) and 225 for the second with Darren Ganga (66 not out) before being bowled by seamer Harvinder Singh in the penultimate over of the day. Solid half-centuries from left-handed Hinds and Ganga also augured well for the West Indies, which was let down by batting in its first two Tests against India. Carl Hooper's West Indians have already lost a three-Test series against the hosts as they were beaten by an innings and 112 runs in the opening match at Mumbai and then by eight wickets in the second at Chennai. The third and final Test starts at Calcutta on October 30. The West Indies, hoping to avoid a clean sweep, gained valuable batting practice after winning the toss on an easy-paced Nehru Stadium pitch. Wicket-keeper Ridley Jacobs led the team in the absence of Hooper, who was rested along with prolific batsman Shivnarine Chanderpaul. The tourists were off to a flying start as Gayle and Hinds made the Railways attack look mediocre despite having two bowlers with Test experience in left-arm spinner Murali Karthik and Harvinder. The 26-year-old Hinds, who has scored just one half-century in four Test innings against India, was more aggressive than Gayle as he raced to his 50 off just 56 balls with the help of 11 fours. Hinds was the only batsman to be dismissed in the morning session with off spinner Kulamani Parida inducing a catch to Jacob Martin in the slips. Gayle, without a half-century in two Tests, went on the rampage in the afternoon as he punished both seamers and spinners to score 75 of the 132 runs his team made in the two-hour session. He offered one chance in his 293-ball knock when he was on 19, but Karthik failed to hold on to a return catch. Runs came from the both the ends as Ganga staked his claim for the final Test with a 214-ball knock. The 23-year-old Trinidadian has so far struck 11 fours.
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