It was a day of scintillating cricket at Galle on the first day of the first test between the touring West Indies and the hosts Sri Lanka and unfortunately, for the latter, they were at the receiving end. Chris Gayle played a classy unbeaten century and is yet to run out of steam. He began the day, putting up on a steady and meaty opening stand with Adrian Barath. The two were a little cautious off the block, but soon Gayle got into the swing of things. He slapped new ball bowler Thilan Thushara for three fours in the 9th over - one to mid-wicket, one through mid-on and one through the covers. It was clearly a sign of things to come, for from then on, he didn't let the fielding side settle at all.
In a fortuitous 20th over, Randiv dropped a return catch from Barath which went for four. The boundaries were coming at a quick rate, almost one every over. Gayle and Barath took 10 runs off Randiv in the 23rd over to bring up a century opening stand. Gayle had himself just got a half-century. But Bharath fell soon after when Randiv had him caught by Jayawardene at slip for exactly 50. Then Darren Bravo joined Gayle in the middle and got off the mark with a boundary through extra cover off Ajantha Mendis. But he was content just playing the sheet-anchor role to a blistering Gayle.
In the 30th over, the Umpire Decision Review System (UDRS) came into play when Mendis appealed for an lbw against Gayle. The replay however, showed that Gayle had got a huge inside edge onto his pads which meant that Sri Lanka lost one chance of using the UDRS. Gayle was well on top of the spinners as was evident especially in the 39th over, when he punched Randiv for one four at deep square leg and two huge sixes, one over long on and one over the long off boundary. With those powerful biffs, he brought up his century off just 117 balls.
In the 46th over, the West Indies had moved past the 200-run mark at which stage things were looking very bleak indeed for Sri Lanka. In the 52nd over, Gayle once again got stuck into Randiv, swatting him for a four to backward of point and then carting him for a six over long off. It was a definitive way for Gayle to bring in Tea.
He started off the last session of the day with a four and then a single of Randiv to notch up a century-and-a-half. There was just no respite for the Sri Lankans with Gayle at the crease as a few overs later, he once again sent Randiv for two fours. The Windies had moved onto 269/1 in just 62 overs. Nothing was going the Lankans' way as in the 70th over, Randiv dropped Gayle again when the latter blasted back a near return catch. In the very next ball, the man at short fine leg dropped a tough chance which allowed Bravo to survive.
Once again, Gayle blasted a couple of sixes off Randiv to take the Windies' score to over 300. But in the next over, Bravo's stay at the crease came to an end when he skied a Mendis delivery to deep square leg where Samaraweera took the catch. Gayle and Bravo had put on 196 runs for the second wicket, with Shivnarine Chanderpaul, the new man out in the middle. Chanderpaul provided Gayle the support he needed to reach his double hundred which came in the 81st over. It was his third in Tests. It had come of just 221 balls with 23 fours and as many as 8 sixes. Thanks largely to him, the Windies had moved to a commanding total of 324/2.
But Gayle was far from finished with business. In the 85th over, he sent Dammika Prasad for two more fours and in the next over, Thusara for a boundary to mid wicket. Within the next couple of overs, the Windies had moved to 351/2. Through the day, Gayle had employed a no-mercy approach to the Lankan bowlers and it had paid off. Batting on 219, he and Chanderpaul who was not out on 20, closed out the day with the score at a mammoth 362/2. Sri Lanka will have a lot of thinking to do before they take the field on Day 2.