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Gayle devastates South Africa

Last updated on: November 02, 2006 22:40 IST
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Defending champions the West Indies rode on the sheer brilliance of Chris Gayle to pull off an upset six-wicket victory over South Africa and enter the final of the Champions Trophy cricket tournament, in Jaipur, on Thursday.

The West Indies, who registered their third semi-final success over South Africa, following victories in the 1998 and 2004 editions of the tournament, will meet world champions Australia in the title clash in Mumbai on November 5.

Australia beat New Zealand by 34 runs in the first semi-final on Wednesday.

The West Indies owed their victory to Gayle, who made mockery of a seemingly competitive target with a breathtaking display of aggressive batting during his unbeaten knock of 133 that came off just 135 balls and contained 17 fours and three sixes.

It was only apt that the dashing opener hit the winning runs, a powerful four off Robin Peterson, to begin celebrations in the West Indies dressing room.

The 27-year-old thrashed the daylight out of all the South African bowlers as the West Indies overhauled South Africa's total of 258 for 8 with as many as six overs to spare.

Gayle, playing his 150th ODI, also figured in a 154-run partnership, the highest of the tournament, with Shivnarine Chanderpaul before the latter retired hurt with leg cramps on 57.

Also making merry on the easy-paced track were Ramnaresh Sarwan, who chipped in with a run-a-ball 27.

The pyrotechnics of the cavalier West Indies' batsmen put to shade the effort of Herschelle Gibbs (77), who shrugged off a form slump and controversy over his first appearance in India in six years owing to match-fixing allegations and put on 92 runs for the fourth wicket with AB de Villiers (46), the only other notable contributor to the total of 262 for 4 in 44 overs.

South Africa innings:

South Africa were off to a tentative start on an easy-paced wicket at the Sawai Mansingh stadium after electing to bat, but recovered with some quick scoring in the last 10 overs that fetched them 76 runs.

Openers Graeme Smith and Loots Bosman, brought in for Boeta Dippennar and playing his first match of the tournament, appeared to negotiate the new ball well before the South African skipper was sent back by a stinging Jerome Taylor in-swinger.

Smith, who hit three boundaries in his 19-run knock, could not do much, as the ball clipped his pads and hit the stumps after swinging in sharply.

The West Indies got another big wicket when Jacques Kallis, promoted up the order ahead of Gibbs, lost composure in the face of some disciplined bowling after scoring 16 off 38 balls, that was inclusive of three fours.

Dwayne Bravo, who replaced an ineffective Ian Bradshaw, teased Kallis into playing a good length ball that got the edge and was caught by an alert Ramnaresh Sarwan at third man.

Reduced to 65 for 2 by the 17th over, Bosman and Gibbs tried to stitch together a substantial partnership before the rookie opener was dismissed for a 58-ball 39 (6x4) by Marlon Samuels, who struck with the third ball of his first over.

The bowling change worked perfectly once again for the West Indies as Bosman, who was beginning to cut loose after the initial tentativeness, tried to flick the ball to the leg side but got a leading edge that was held by Chris Gayle at extra cover.

Bosman's dismissal served as a rude awakening for Gibbs, who shook off his poor form with some sensible batting.

Joining hands with A B de Villiers, he brought the innings back on track and also completed his 26th ODI 50 with a cover driven four, off 67 balls.

De Villiers though was unlucky, as he fell short of his 50 when he was run-out by a brilliant direct throw by West Indies skipper Brian Lara. His 46 came off 57 balls and contained three fours.

His dismissal triggered off a collapse of sorts as South Africa lost three more wickets in quick succession.

Justin Kemp (3) was sent back by Bradshaw and the in-form Mark Boucher (16) followed suit, reducing South Africa to 219 for 6 in the 46th over.

Boucher smashed the ball high into covers to Sarwan after hitting a six, the first of the innings, off the previous ball off Marlon Samuels.

Shaun Pollock (4) was also out in an attempt to go for a big one, being clean bowled by a straighter one from Taylor.

West Indies innings:

The West Indies were off to a flier, with the in-form Gayle and Chanderpaul unleashing a flurry of boundaries to dent the confidence of the South African new-ball bowlers, who had enjoyed early success in the previous two matches.

In fact, Makhaya Ntini had to be forced off the attack after just three overs which cost a whopping 23 runs and the usually accurate Shaun Pollock also ended up conceding 34 runs in his first spell of five overs.

Gayle, who completed 1000 runs in 2006 when he reached 10, hoisted Pollock over long off for a huge six as the West Indies raced to 76 runs in 10 overs.

Chanderpaul, at the other end, was no less aggressive, his improvised six off Andre Nel to fine leg boundary underlining the dominance of the West Indies batsmen.

Frustrated by the failure of his fast bowlers to effect a breakthrough, skipper Graeme Smith introduced himself into the attack only to be smashed for two fours on the trot by Gayle, who raced to his 29th ODI 50 off just 48 balls, with the help of seven fours and a six.

Jacques Kallis was also meted out similar treatment as he was smashed over the midwicket fence and then hit for a four by Gayle off the first and second balls of the 18th over, the scoreboard reading 116 for no loss.

Chanderpaul also duly completed his 50, the 42nd of his career, with the help of four fours and a six off 57 balls before retiring hurt due to leg cramps on 57.

Sarwan wasted no time in taking the baton from Chanderpaul and struck six fours before being trapped leg before by Ntini, the first success for the hapless South African bowlers.

Gayle continued to bat with flourish and ensured he hit the winning runs.

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