Whirlwind Gayle ton downs Strikers
Sydney Thunder 156 for 4 (Gayle 100*) beat Adelaide Strikers 155 for 8 (Botha 41, Abbott 2-20) by six wickets
The 11,337 people who showed up at the ANZ Stadium tonight in western Sydney were treated to the Chris Gayle Show. In a brutal display of power hitting, Gayle clubbed an unbeaten 100 off 54 balls to help Sydney Thunder chase down 156 against Adelaide Strikers. The West Indian smashed three fours and 11 sixes, breaking his own record for the number of sixes hit in an Australian domestic T20 innings.
In reality the match was a tough sell. The Strikers travelled without their biggest star Kieron Pollard, out of the tournament with a hamstring injury, while the Thunder's captain and first match centurion, David Warner, is away on national duty.
The Strikers did cause some concerns though. Gayle faced just six deliveries between the 12th and 16th overs. The Strikers removed Ben Dunk for 8 when he holed out needlessly off Johan Botha with 59 needed from 45 balls. Craig Philipson then faced eight deliveries for just two runs, seven of them consecutively. Such was the demand for Gayle, that Philipson was booed by his own crowd when he could not get off the strike.
Eventually, Philipson was bowled by Aaron O'Brien, the left-arm orthodox spinner, who took 3 for 26 in an impressive spell. But the 15th over was O'Brien's last.
By the conclusion of the 16th over, Strikers captain Michael Klinger had a problem. Both O'Brien and Kane Richardson were bowled out, whilst Botha and Alfonso Thomas each had only one over left. Klinger's fifth bowler, Bryce McGain had conceded 21 in two earlier overs with Gayle smashing him into the stands three times.
Klinger instead gambled with the very part-time offspin of Cameron Borgas and Gayle made him pay. He smashed three consecutive sixes, one which travelled 105m, to take the required run-rate from nine-an-over down to five, and the victory was a mere formality from there. Klinger looked helpless, probably wishing he could have placed fielders in the stands.
All that was left was for Gayle to bring up his first Twenty20 hundred in Australia, and his sixth in the format worldwide.
Given Gayle's performance it was unlikely that any target the Strikers set would have been defendable, however, 155 was never going to be enough.
Adelaide slumped to 4 for 52 in the ninth over and never really recovered. A brief salvage effort was mounted by Botha (41) and Borgas (24) so help steer the Strikers to a middling total. But they struggled to conquer a versatile Thunder attack. Teenager Sean Abbott was the pick of the bowlers with 2 for 20 while Fidel Edwards generated good pace collecting 2 for 35.
In the end though, the night was all about one man.