West Indies v Zimbabwe, World Cup 2015, Group B, Canberra February 24, 2015

Gayle, Samuels smash Zimbabwe and records

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West Indies 372 for 2 (Gayle 215, Samuels 133*) beat Zimbabwe 289 (Williams 76, Ervine 52, Taylor 3-38) by 73 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

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'Best innings I've ever played' - Gayle

An ODI double-hundred should feel monumental. This one felt inevitable. The fastest ODI double-hundred should feel exhilarating, like a rollercoaster ride. This felt like a quiet drive home from a suburban Tupperware party. That's what Chris Gayle does. He makes a double ton seem inevitable after going 19 months without an ODI century.

This was the fifth double-century in ODIs, and it came exactly five years after Sachin Tendulkar first reached the landmark. Once a year is too frequent a rate for the milestone to be special any more, and since it was Gayle, it answered the question of when rather than if. Interviewed right after his dismissal off the final ball of the innings, Gayle himself said a lot of people had expected it from him. "A lot of fans," he said, "have tweeted about it since Rohit Sharma scored two double-hundreds."

Gayle finished on 215 from 147 balls. He hit 10 fours and sent 16 sixes flying over the straight boundary or into a group of fans dressed as a coven of witches beyond the midwicket boundary. At the other end, unnoticed, Marlon Samuels made his highest ODI score and played second fiddle in a partnership of 372, the highest for any wicket in ODIs.

It had drizzled all through the West Indies innings, but only got heavy enough for the players to go off the field in the third over of Zimbabwe's innings, by which time they had already lost Regis Chakabva. When play resumed 20 minutes later, the target had been revised to 363 from 48 overs. Despite losing two more wickets by the end of the eighth over, Zimbabwe made enough of a fist of the chase to make you wonder what might have happened had West Indies only made 320.

The revival began with an 80-run partnership between Brendan Taylor and Sean Williams, before Williams and Craig Ervine - who had revived Zimbabwe in their chase against UAE - upped the rate of scoring with a 51-run fifth-wicket stand off just 46 balls. When Williams holed out off a miscued a pull in the 28th over, Zimbabwe needed 186 from 20.1 overs. They had brought the equation down to a Twenty20 chase, just about, but had lost five wickets in doing so.

They just had too much left to do, and when Ervine, having used the stroke productively during his innings of 51, was bowled trying to sweep a darted Gayle offbreak, they were in danger of being bowled out. Gayle had struck four balls after coming on. In his next over, he had Stuart Matsikenyeri lbw, deceiving him for length. This was entirely his day.

Gayle's innings distilled his biggest strengths: his patience - he faced 59 dot balls, or just over 40% of the total balls he faced; only Rohit Sharma's 209 in Bangalore contained a bigger percentage of dots among the five ODI double tons - and his ability to maximise a fairly small range of shots. Not for him the ramps and the reverse-laps. Not even the cover drives and the square cuts. Until he drilled Chatara to the extra-cover boundary to go from 196 to 200, he had hit only one four and one six through the off side. Everything else was launched down the ground or clubbed or pulled over the leg side.

It helped him that two of Zimbabwe's spinners, Tafadzwa Kamungozi and Sean Ervine, turned the ball into him. They disappeared for 21 each in the 44th and 45th overs. West Indies went from 258 to 300 in that time, Gayle from 151 to 190, with two fours and five sixes in eight balls, the best of them an effortless pick-up shot off Kamungozi over backward square leg.

Gayle could have been out first ball. Tinashe Panyangara, who had already bowled Dwayne Smith for a duck, curled one into Gayle and bellowed in appeal for lbw. Steve Davis said not out. We don't know for sure, but he may have suspected an inside edge. Zimbabwe reviewed. There was no inside edge. But Hawkeye suggested the ball would have gone on to hit the upper half of the bails. Umpire's call.

West Indies could have been 1 for 2. Who knows what might have happened then? Instead, Gayle began the process of slow accumulation that often lays the base for his biggest innings. Panyangara and Tendai Chatara were landing the ball on a good length, generally bowling stump-to-stump on a slow pitch, and moving it around off the seam. Neither Gayle nor Samuels looked fluent. At the 10-over mark, West Indies were 43 for 1.

Gayle's first six came in the 11th over, over long-on off Williams, a warning that he could repeat the stroke whenever he saw one in his hitting zone. In the 17th, Samuels went for a cut and sliced Sikandar Raza straight towards Chatara at backward point. He dived forward, got both hands to the ball, and dropped it.

After 20 overs, West Indies were 96 for 1, and it wasn't until the 29th that their run-rate crept up to five an over. Gayle by then was going along at over a run a ball but Samuels was crawling along at half that strike rate, struggling for timing and hitting balls straight to fielders.

At the start of the 40th over, West Indies were 203 for 1 and Gayle was on 121. His innings could have ended there, had Panyangara not overstepped while sending down a ball that Gayle skied down long-on's throat. Off the free-hit next ball, as if to mock Zimbabwe's wretched luck, Gayle gave long-on more catching practice.

Zimbabwe's bowlers probably knew what was coming next. They had conceded 146 in the last 10 overs against South Africa. Here they conceded 152. Just as they had done in that game, they had begun well with the ball and bowled reasonably well in the middle overs without threatening to take wickets. At Hamilton, it had left the well set David Miller and JP Duminy at the crease after 40 overs. Now it was the turn of Gayle and Samuels.

After Gayle reached his double-hundred in the 46th over, it was Samuels' turn to align some of the spotlight on himself. At the start of the 48th over, he tucked Chatara away to the fine leg boundary to bring up his century. It had taken him 143 balls to get there, and at that point his strike rate was 69.93. Over the next 13 balls he faced he lifted that to 85.25. He clobbered three fours and a six off Panyangara in the 49th over, including a stunning, flat slap over extra cover, and clubbed Chatara for another six in the final over. Chatara lost control of the next two balls, slipping down successive waist-high full-tosses, and had to be taken off the attack. Hamilton Masakadza trudged on to bowl the last two balls, an appropriately absurd end to a bowling effort that had completely gone to pieces.

Karthik Krishnaswamy is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • AlexNag on February 26, 2015, 10:18 GMT

    Plum lbw for 0 should have prevailed. Not good for spot when mistakes are made by both technology and human beings.

  • NikkoChunn on February 25, 2015, 20:16 GMT

    Just to clarify again, since some do not understand basic logic and science (and I hate the latter too but come on!!). One can never claim that a wicket is missed when so and so was bowled or caught or whatevered off of a no ball. The difference between the delivery bowled and the delivery bowled if the release changes due to the feet being back even one inch is enough to render a vastly different result in the delivery's trajectory, where it may or msy not hit the bat and so forth. It is, quite simply, utter nonsense to declare a 'wicket off a no ball' a missed opportunity. End of story. On Gayle, he finally scored, after knocked on Twitter. He doesn't play tests, is always injured, but never for his T20 sides.... Chris, turn up for your team 'cos of pride in it and your country? That would impress me more than you spanking Zimbabwe around after being plum lbw for 0.

  • dummy4fb on February 25, 2015, 12:39 GMT

    Good knock from the master,i wish you continue through out the worldcup Chris Gayle and i'll continue to support each innings you play.

  • crici123 on February 25, 2015, 12:34 GMT

    Great work Gayle, best ODI innings ever!!!! (Closely followed by AB's 149)

  • dummy4fb on February 25, 2015, 12:01 GMT

    Well played Gayle. It had been a treat to watch you batting when are at the crease and in form. Hope to see many such performances by the rest of the hitters from all sides in this tournament.

  • dummy4fb on February 25, 2015, 8:43 GMT

    There is no surprise for a double century from Chris Gayle in ODIs. We are waiting for a double in Twenty 20 from him. If Gayle is in form no target is impossible to achieve. Had we ever seen a six from Chris Gayle referred to the third umpire to confirm whether boundary or six?

  • subratachakrabarty on February 25, 2015, 6:45 GMT

    Congrats Christopher Henry Gayle. U were going through a very lean period and you delivered. Pardon me being naive, but it will give me immense pleasure if you can show similar performances against one or two of the best teams in your group, e.g., South Africa or may be, India or may be in Knockouts, against teams like Aus or NZ. It is worth noting that Zim scored 289, which means if U weren't there, Zim might have won. In IPL also, you scored 175* against one of the weakest team, Pune Warriors. U showed that you can come back hard. Question is, can u sustain this come back? I am in a fix.

  • MeijiMura on February 25, 2015, 5:01 GMT

    Zimbabwe can blame no-one but themselves. The LBW first ball was out of their hands, but they did catch him on 121 off a no-ball and they did drop Samuels when he was on 27. You could make an argument that had either one of these chances been taken Zimbabwe would have won. If both chances had been taken Zimbabwe would have won without any shadow of a doubt. Give guys like Chris Gayle and Marlon Samuels chances at your peril as it will cost you big time. Zimbabwe found that out yesterday. As for Chris Gayle, there is no bigger hitter or more exciting batsman in world cricket when he is firing on all cylinders. The games against South Africa and India will be highlights of the tournament if he fires in them too.

  • dummy4fb on February 25, 2015, 3:49 GMT

    Noone should forget 289 posted by Zim,, this indirectly means WI always needs to post more than 300,,,,,,

  • WindiesWillow on February 25, 2015, 2:57 GMT

    Congrats to CG, and good for him to quiet his critics...ahmm.....i.e. certain presidents of certain organizations. Come on WI, go win the cup, please.