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Cricket news - Gayle comeback ton muscles Windies to 360

Gayle had hit 12 sixes in his innings.

Chris Gayle (135) and Shai Hope (64) tormented England in the first ODI in Barbados and carried their side to 360 for 8 on Wednesday (February 20). They were involved in a 131-run stand for the second wicket that laid the solid platform before Gayle's blistering ton gave the home side a dominating total.

Gayle's innings could well be divided into two halves. For the first 54 runs - with his half-century coming off 76 deliveries - Gayle worked extremely hard to find any sort of rhythm. From there on, it was all about England playing catch-up as the opener decided to have some fun. Ahead of the series, Gayle had claimed he's the greatest player in the world - the snobbishness all too apparent. The thing, however, with Gayle is despite the triple century in the longest format, the double century in ODI cricket, all the centuries in T20 cricket and all the power-packed performance, the doubters have always asked him some critical questions.

So when Gayle was recalled into the ODI side, just ahead of the World Cup, he had to produce something of substance. On a track where the ball stopped at times, Gayle struck 12 hits over the fence - with some of them smoked clean out of the ground. Once Windies opted to bat, John Campbell gave the side a promising start as he blazed away to 30 off 28. Gayle, on the other hand, struggled for timing and was successfully tied down. Chris Woakes produced the first wicket but Hope and Gayle collaborated to transfer the pressure back on the visitors.

Hope attacked right from the start, taking the pressure off Gayle, as Mark Wood, Moeen Ali and Liam Plunkett were consistently peppered for boundaries. It wasn't, however, domination from one end. Having reached his half-century, Gayle opened up and contributed 63 in the stand. It was also because of the cushion given to him by Hope's assault that worked in Windies' favour. Hope's dismissal in the 30th over - with 169 on the board - only brought more misery for the bowlers.

Shimron Hetmyer contributed just 20 off 15 but his partnership with Gayle gave Windies 60 in the next five overs. Gayle did the bulk of the damage as the assault started in the 27th over. Plunkett was hit for two sixes in an over while Wood was given the same treatment in the 31st. Having seen his strike rate drop below 40, Gayle was now scoring at more than 100 and was into the 90s by the 32nd over. The century came in the 35th over - with a single to the on side - as Windies cruised to 229 in 35 overs.

Gayle's presence meant Eoin Morgan was forced to keep Adil Rashid out of the attack till the 34th over. The legspinner did manage to keep Gayle's belligerence in check and that resulted in a wobble in the 35th and the 36th over. Hetmyer was dismissed while Nicholas Pooran fell for a duck in his debut game. Darren Bravo announced his arrival to the crease with a six of the first ball as the pace picked up.

If Gayle bullied England with some muscle power, Bravo's clean striking left the top-ranked side rattled even before the last ten overs commenced. The platform was ideal for Bravo and the response from him couldn't have been better. He eventually fell for 40 off 30 - as Windies neared 300 - but not before he had put the side in prime position to sail past 350 with a 64-run stand. Gayle was dropped twice during his knock - on 9 and 124 - as the left-hander became the first player to hit 100 sixes against a particular side across formats. He also bagged the record of most sixes across formats in international cricket - 488 - as he went past Shahid Afridi's tally of 476.

England made a mini comeback in the death overs as Gayle struggled for fitness and was eventually bowled by Stokes in the 47th over. He walked back to a standing ovation but the wicket ensured England stayed in the hunt at the half-way mark.

Brief scores: Windies 360/8 in 50 overs (Chris Gayle 135; Ben Stokes 3-37) vs England

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