Gayle~~s of pleasure after maiden home century

Published: Friday, May 19, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
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Kingston:For a variety of reasons, Chris Gayle's 12th One-day International hundred meant a lot to him.

The West Indies opening batsman, whose ferocious batting has won him many admirers around the world, hit 123 from 131 balls in the first ODI against India on Thursday at Sabina Park.

India won the match by five wickets with one ball to spare however, after skipper Rahul Dravid also gathered his 12th ODI hundred.

For Gayle though, his inside-edge off a delivery from Munaf Patel that bounced past his leg-stump and into the fine leg region was a momentous occasion.

"It is very special because it was my first hundred in either a Test or an ODI on home (Jamaican) soil," remarked the big Jamaican left-hander.

"It's very, very pleasing, and I hope it's the first of many more to come.

"I think it was a good innings, and I remembered that I had been consistent in the ODIs against the Indian team in India four years ago, and I am hoping to continue from there," he said.

"I am coming off a bit of ups and downs in the preceding series against Zimbabwe, and I was looking forward to these matches against India. This is a good start and I hope to continue batting well, and go from strength to strength."

On West Indies' last trip to India, Gayle reeled off scores of 7, 103, 72, 140, 101, 27 and 5 for a series aggregate of 455 runs at an average of 65.00 that helped West Indies clinch the seven-match series 4-3, but admits he has been struggling recently.

"After watching a couple of my innings against Zimbabwe, I recognised that I was starting slow and I know that's not typically Chris Gayle," he said.

"So I decided to up the tempo a bit and be more aggressive early on. It paid off in the end, and after that I tried to settle down and build the innings gradually."

In the end, Gayle was disappointed that West Indies could not ride to victory on the crest of the wave of his hundred, but acknowledged the competitiveness of both sides.

"We are two very competitive teams in which the batting plays a very important part," he said.

"India batted really well and that partnership between Rahul Dravid and Mohammed Kaif was very important. The Indian captain really dug in deep and sewed the game up for them.

"In the last five or six overs however, I felt we should have scored more runs, but this is something we will have to work on for the next game coming up."

Chasing a victory target of 252 from their allocation of 45 overs, India hit the jackpot following a 123-run four-wicket partnership between Dravid and Kaif.

The second ODI will be contested on Saturday at the same venue before the teams head to Warner Park in the St. Kitts capital of Basseterre which is staging its first ODI next Tuesday, and Port of Spain's Queen's Park Oval for the last two ODIs next Friday and Sunday.

The ODI series will be followed by a four-Test series with matches at St. John's, Gros Islet, Basseterre, which will also be staging its first Test, and Kingston.

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