West Indies v India, Group F, Bridgetown May 9, 2010

Captain Gayle leads the way

This innings was Gayle at his destructive best, but it was also Gayle at his most mature and composed as he batted for all bar two balls of the innings

If Chris Gayle leads, West Indies tend to follow. All teams can be inspired by the performance of their captain, yet rarely has the impact been so clear as with Gayle's role within his side. As with Mahela Jayawardene he came within a brace of becoming the first batsman to make two Twenty20 international hundreds, but of far greater significance is that the hosts remain very much alive in this tournament.

This innings was Gayle at his destructive best, but it was also Gayle at his most mature and composed as he batted for all bar two balls of the innings when his bat bounced up when he tried to make his ground. He scored at better than a run-a-ball in the first six, but only just as he assessed conditions were tougher after overnight rain. At the start of the eighth over he was on 26 - Gayle has often had that many to his name before anyone can blink.

He picked his moments and targeted certain bowlers. Harbhajan Singh was allowed to escape with four overs for 16 (much as Johan Botha had been treated with respect by England) and teams are often allowing the opposition's main threat to be played out. Batsmen are confident of being able to make the ground up elsewhere. This time it was Ravindra Jadeja - who has had a tournament to forget - and Suresh Raina who were picked off for 50 in four overs. India again packed their batting, but they were desperate for another bowler.

This effort can rank alongside the 117 Gayle made against South Africa in the opening match of the inaugural tournament and the stunning 88 off 50 balls against Australia last year as his finest Twenty20 innings. "The South Africa one will always stand out more but if you look at the situation here it was a must-win for us," Gayle said. "So to come out and deliver is what we asked for. It was suitable for my style of batting and the ball came on nicely."

The atmosphere inside the Kensington Oval was electric which confirmed how important West Indies presence is to this tournament. Each Gayle boundary was greeted by cacophonous noise as the West Indian fans made sure they out-cheered their Indian counterparts. For sponsors and broadcasters this would have been the perfect final.

Staging the match at 9.30 on a Sunday morning (or 10am after the delayed start) was hardly ideal timing for the local audience, but the needs of the Indian television market are being serviced first. The irony now is that India are looking increasingly unlikely to make the knockout stages. However, despite the early start the crowd turned up in numbers with only a few vacant seats.

"The support has been tremendous," Gayle said. "We had to come out and give the crowd something to cheer about otherwise I'm sure stones would have been thrown. This victory eases the pressure a bit but we can't relax."

Gayle's strokeplay warmed the crowd and one blow - a back-foot drive off Yusuf Pathan - bounced on the top of the 3Ws stand. Locals say they have never see such a blow. It was a monstrous strike. But there was one moment later in the match that was true Caribbean and all too rare these days. Kemar Roach produced a wicked bouncer which followed Gautam Gambhir as he tried to sway out of the line. The ball kissed the glove and Denesh Ramdin leapt off the ground to take the catch. The stands went wild.

The reaction was the same, and perhaps even louder given the match was heading for its denouement, when Dwayne Bravo produced a direct hit from long-on to run out MS Dhoni who was India's last hope. Bravo ended up at midwicket in celebration then had the task of bowling the final over after a nervous Roach bowled four wides and a no-ball to make West Indies sweat. Even on a day when Bravo hadn't been at his best with the ball he wasn't going give up 19 runs.

The local fans are desperate for success - victory still brings huge passion - but they are so used to defeats that it has become the norm. The scenes when West Indies do conjure victory remind of how much they are savoured. As they exited the stands the trumpets were blaring and smiles beamed. It was much the same when Jerome Taylor skittled England for 51 in Jamaica last year. Now West Indies need to repeat this against Australia and Gayle will set benchmark. Once again captain, it's over to you.

Andrew McGlashan is assistant editor of Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • VettiPayyan on May 11, 2010, 10:37 GMT

    @DaleGonsalves I guess Ind has been the most consistent teams to tour Aus since 2003 among all the teams. We have drawn/beaten Aus in Aus more than any other touring team since then... So be clear before commenting... We clobbered Aus in Perth... the fastest pitch in cricket...

    Also we softened up Aussies by beating them when they toured Ind in 2008, which helped SA beat them in their own backyard...

    T20 is a shorter game where 2-3 quick balls can change an innings... Also WI team were very poor against Zim and Ireland in batting.. so does that mean ur team can play even mediocre bowling??

    Infact all teams SL, Ind, Pak have suffered to short bowling.. so guess be fair in ur comments...

  • Bengali-Tiger007 on May 10, 2010, 16:05 GMT

    This is a message to all the subcontinent team officials, I hope you guys read the forums at cric info and please take a note of my suggestion. When will you guys produce bouncy and pacy wickets in our countries? Its obviously evident that the countries that do produce these wickets are playing much better such as Australia, England, etc.

  • palimanku on May 10, 2010, 13:02 GMT

    how come Ganguly start suggesting that how to play against Australia and WI (he has 2 centuries against Aus in all the matches he played and against WI he has none) more over now he start suggesting the players how to play short pitch ball. ha ha ha ha

  • dummy4fb on May 10, 2010, 11:28 GMT

    @johnca Dunno how you can claim India as the better team while begging for flat pitches, pathetic really.

    The Kensington pitch isnt the fastest or bounciest that could have been produced, if India cant cope here what will they do in Oz where the pitches are more bouncier and faster.

    India needs to improve instead of constantly getting home advantage from mediocre pitches. Saying that they are the best when they cant play Jerome Taylor or a new, raw Kemar Roach says a lot about their so called "quality"

  • Mitcher on May 10, 2010, 10:41 GMT

    I was really confused what all this talk of the 'Boom Boom Indians' was about. Now it's all clear. Play Australia (boom!! they lose), play west indies (boom!!!!! they lose). Boom Boom!!!

  • Snakehead007 on May 10, 2010, 10:41 GMT

    well indias has got to stop relying on sehwag, they have got enough match winners in their team, but not many of em are in form n the same can happen to any player even sehwag has had bad patches.

  • Ethel on May 10, 2010, 10:40 GMT

    For some time i have been wondering why Shivnarine Chanderpaul is opening the batting wken they could have used someone like Dale Richards instead of trying to reserrect Hinds. Richards would clobber the australian fast bowling . At this rate there is no way the w.i will beat Aus with Gail alone.....up to this point Pollard has not impress me.............of course he is not scoring runs.

  • dummy4fb on May 10, 2010, 5:19 GMT

    haha captain gayle leads from the front what a joke this will happen only once . Look a the number of extras the wi conceded roach was all over the place . You need to do better than that to beat the aussies .Gayle will be thrashed the next match due to sheer pace . its hopeless for west indies

  • TenRajesh on May 10, 2010, 5:02 GMT

    Windies didnt win the match rather the indian bowlers and fielders gifted the match.

  • Rydham on May 10, 2010, 4:08 GMT

    nonsense approch of India cause the defeat for themselves. Neither Gyale nor windies bowlers are responsible for the defeat. Jayvardena of SL played a knowck of 81 in the first match and still SL lost the match, same way Gayle's inning was good but not that much better that snatched away the match from India. History repeats here as of the previous WC when WI thrashed Ind the same way. Persistance of Dhoni to play Jadeja was the main factor along with the inability of indians to rotate the strike well. Gambhir is the biggest disappointment of this WC. He is playing like a debutant !! God knows where this team will go ! Only Persistant Dhoni can tell us. He is becoming a whimsy captain and perhaps answers his supporters that why he can not be in the league of Ganguly and Kapil !!!

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