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Majestic Gayle steers WI home
02 Nov 2006
By: Matt Pitt

Chris Gayle's stunning tournament continued as he racked up his third century of the tournament against South Africa today, a thunderous innings of 133 not out which led his side to a berth in Sunday's final alongside Australia. Herschelle Gibbs' 77 was not enough for the Proteas, as their total of 258-8 was surpassed with six overs to spare.

Gayle's spectacular innings came as part of 154-run opening stand with Shivnarine Chanderpaul, which laid the foundations for an easy West Indian victory. South Africa's bowlers failed to show up on a day when the side batting second were expected to struggle.

South Africa's batsmen had not fared too shabbily - Gibbs' 77 was a well-paced, mature knock, which was supported well by 46 from AB de Villiers and 39 from Graeme Smith's new opening partner, Loots Bosman. Jerome Taylor, Marlon Samuels and Dwayne Bravo each took two wickets as the Proteas, marginal favourites before the game, lost wickets at regular intervals.

The biggest partnership of the South African innings came between Gibbs and de Villiers, as they calmly took their side from the precarious position of 96-3 to 188-3, albeit inside the last ten overs. No batsman bar Gibbs was able to settle as the West Indian bowlers mixed up their angles cleverly.

South Africa's total of 258-8 was by all means an acceptable one, but by the time Gayle had faced just three balls of the West Indian innings, it was beginning to look a lot smaller. After Shaun Pollock had started with a wide, Gayle belted him for two boundaries in trademark fashion. The onslaught did not stop there, Pollock's five overs going for 34 as Gayle let rip time and time again.

Chanderpaul provided more than adequate support with a handy 57 before retiring hurt, but it would have proven difficult to steal the show from Gayle on this occasion. Showing his full range of strokes off either foot, Gayle laid waste to anything the bowlers could send down at him, and has surely secured the Player of the Tournament Award with this innings.

His 133 not out came from only 135 balls, and contained 17 fours and three sixes - none of the bowlers were able to trouble him consistently enough to get him out, and this was their undoing, as the rest of the middle order faultered somewhat. Sarwan, Lara, Bravo and Morton made only 51 between them, but Gayle carried his side into the final in swaggering fashion.

The West Indies will take on Australia in Sunday's finale with great confidence, having beaten them in the group stages - in a largely meaningless tournament, one can only hope the final will provide the kind of entertainment that Chris Gayle provided in spades today.

South Africa 258-8 (50 overs)
Herschelle Gibbs 77; Dwayne Bravo 2-41

West Indies 262-4 (44 overs)
Chris Gayle 133*, Shivarine Chanderpaul 57; Robin Peterson 1-36

Cricket Web Player of the Match - Chris Gayle, 133* (135 balls, 17x4, 3x6), 10-0-48-0 and a catch

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