Gayle fires in Lara~~s farewell match

Published: Saturday, April 21, 2007, 23:53 [IST]
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Bridgetown (Barbados):Chris Gayle lit up Brian Lara's farewell match with an explosive half-century as the West Indies posted a challenging 300 in their last World Cup game against England here at Kensington Oval on Saturday.

The left-handed opener gave a magnificent demonstration of power-hitting as he smashed three sixes and 10 fours in a 58-ball 79 for his first half-century of the tournament.

Gayle put on 131 for the opening wicket with Devon Smith (61), who played a supporting role remarkably well before falling to a superb one-handed catch by Paul Collingwood at point off paceman Andrew Flintoff.

Marlon Samuels (51) and Shivnarine Chanderpaul (34) also made merry in a match which was also Duncan Fletcher's last as England coach.

But the biggest applause was reserved for skipper Lara, who gave a few glimpses of his attractive stroke-play during his 17-ball 18 before being run out while responding to a call from hesistant Samuels.

Samuels initially charged for a single after pushing paceman Stuart Broad to mid-on before changing his mind. Lara was out of the crease when Kevin Pietersen hit the stumps at the non-striker's end with an underarm throw.

Lara had arrived at the crease to a thunderous applause from a capacity crowd at the Kensington Oval stadium, hugging returning Gayle on the way.

He opened his account with a single before hitting his first four, a square-drive off Flintoff bowling round the stumps. The England bowler then immediately tested Lara with a bouncer.

Lara flicked Anderson for his second boundary and edged Flintoff for his third which eluded Andrew Strauss's outstretched right hand at the lone slip. Just when it looked he had settled down, he was run out.

The celebrating England cricketers, who had formed a guard of honour on his arrival, applauded him when Lara was returning to the pavilion.

Lara stopped, turned back, took off his helmet and raised his bat, acknowledging the applause from the crowd before walking back to the dressing-room sporting number '9' on his shirt.

Gayle earlier returned to form when he exploded with a flurry of big shots, once severely punishing seamer Liam Plunkett. He cracked two fours and as many sixes in an over before racing to his half-century off just 29 balls.

England captain Michael Vaughan's decision to put the West Indies in to bat on a hard pitch backfired as none of his fast bowlers could keep pressure on Gayle.

The West Indies and England are battling for the fifth-sixth placings after having failed to qualify for the semi-finals.

England, who beat Bangladesh for their only win against a Test-playing nation, now need to raise their batting performance to give their supporters something to cheer about.

Brief Score:

West Indies 300 all out in 49.5 overs (Gayle 79, Smith 61, Samuels 51, Chanderpaul 34, Lara 18; Vaughan 3 for 39, Flintoff 2 for 59, Collingwood 1 for 40) Vs England (yet to bat)


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