‘Universe Boss’ is back; West Indies seal series win over Australia
SUMMARY: Australia 141-6 from 20 overs (Henriques 33, Finch 30, Turner 24, Walsh Jr. 2-18, McCoy 1-9, Bravo 1-17, Allen 1-26) vs West Indies 142-4 in 14.5 overs (Gayle 67, Pooran 32*, Meredith 3-48)
An under-fire Chris Gayle turned up in emphatic fashion on Monday evening, bullying Australia’s bowlers in St. Lucia as West Indies wrapped up a series win over Australia in clinical fashion in the third CG Insurance T20I.
Set a target of 142, West Indies romped to victory at 142-4 from 14.5 overs with Gayle smashing seven sixes in 67 off 38 balls. In the process, the Jamaican left-hander passed 14,000 T20 runs, the first man to reach that landmark.
The self-proclaimed ‘Universe Boss’, who turns 42 in September, had been the centre of public scrutiny, given his lean run of form in T20 Internationals, and specifically his struggles in a new role at number three.
The man with 22 T20 centuries found himself at the crease as early as the fourth delivery of the innings after the dismissal of Andre Fletcher, and proceeded to record his first half-century since 2016 when he scored 100* against England in Mumbai during the World T20.
Incidentally, West Indies went on to win that tournament, and at the post-match presentation of Monday, Gayle restated his desire to help the Men in Maroon defend that title in the UAE and Oman later this year.
This latest innings would no doubt lift his confidence ahead of that undertaking, after he managed only two scores above 30 since that hundred, including nine single-figure scores in 19 innings.
Gayle was particularly destructive on the on-side with 58 of his runs coming forward of square.
“You all knew I was struggling with the bat and to be able to get some runs today was very pleasing. But what was pleasing about getting these runs tonight was my teammates,” Gayle said.
“I want to dedicate this half-century and milestone to my teammates, especially Kieron Pollard and he stand tall for the person I am and what I’ve achieved. He let me know where I stand within this team and he wanted me to go and express myself. So I’m very grateful for that pep talk because sometimes it doesn’t matter how great you are, you need a bit of a talk sometimes.”
Skipper Nicholas Pooran, who was reduced to a mere spectator during a partnership of 67 with Gayle, put the finishing touches to the innings with a brisk 32* off 27.
After consecutive boundaries to wrap up the win, the stand-in captain, who himself had been struggling for runs recently, let out a loud roar as his side clinched the series in style.
The victory ensured Pooran kept a perfect captaincy record after three games in charge, following an injury to regular leader Kieron Pollard.
Riley Meredith picked up 3-48 for Australia, who were held to below-par 141-6 as West Indies bowlers, for the third game in succession, maintained a high level of discipline.
Leg-spinner Hayden Walsh Jr. picked up 2-18 to move to eight wickets in the series, while Obed McCoy had 1-9, Dwayne Bravo 1-17 and Fabian Allen 1-26.
Moises Henriques made 33 off 29, Aaron Finch 30 off 31, Ashton Turner 24 off 22 and Matthew Wade 23 off 16.
The final two matches of the series are billed for July 14 and 16, with both games starting 19:30h in St. Lucia.