UPDATE: Chris Gayle’s six-studded century sets England target of 361

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Innings break West Indies 360 for 8 (Gayle 135, Hope 64) v England

Chris Gayle

(Upadate by ESPNCricnfo)

Chris Gayle overcame a slow start to set his ODI swansong alight with a six-studded century to lead West Indies to a challenging total in the first ODI against England in Barbados.

Gayle’s penchant for clearing the boundary, when it finally came out of hiding, carried him to 135 off 129 balls but also caught on with his team-mates, who added 11 sixes to his 12 for a world record 23 sixes in their total of 360 for 8.

Back in West Indies’ side for the first time since their home ODI series against Bangladesh last July, Gayle brought up his 24th ODI hundred with a single off Chris Woakes and soaked up the moment, dropping to his knees, arms outstretched before holding his bat aloft by the toe with his helmet perched on top of the handle.

Having made himself unavailable for subsequent tours of India and Bangladesh to play the Afghanistan Premier League and the T10 League, the 39-year-old Gayle took time to settle but, once he did, he put on quite a performance. After 14 overs, Gayle had 12 off 36 balls, by end of the 35th he had faced 100 balls for his century.

When he announced he would retire from one-day cricket after the World Cup, Gayle called upon the “youngsters” of the team, saying they “owe it to me to win” the tournament in the off-beat manner we have come to expect from one of the game’s great showmen on and off the field before adding: “I’ll be looking to put my input in as well.”

After presenting caps to debutants John Campbell and Nicholas Pooran, he caught a glimpse of the future, opening with Campbell and taking a back seat as the 25-year-old compiled a handy cameo of 30 off 28 balls. But, having added just six runs to West Indies’ score of 38 at that time, Gayle’s moment to give his input looked to have arrived when Campbell hoicked a Woakes short ball straight to Moeen Ali at deep square leg.

Gayle remained subdued however, with nine off 32 balls and the most exciting part of his innings up to that time was a miscue off Liam Plunkett which sailed to point where Jason Roy grassed a dolly of a catch. Gayle finally looked like hitting his stride on the fourth ball he faced after receiving his second chance, smashing Moeen down the ground for six, his 477th in international cricket to pass Shahid Afridi at the top of the list.

Not to be outdone, Shai Hope – who had already surpassed Gayle’s innings score after coming in at No.3 – hit a gigantic straight six off Moeen which landed on the roof of the media centre, some five storeys high. Hope was the first to 50, reaching the mark off 48 balls, the fastest of his eight ODI half-centuries.

On the very next ball, Gayle – who had picked up his strike rate significantly thanks largely to his trademark swinging bat – moved to 49 with a towering 111m six off Moeen. He brought up his half-century with a four off Ben Stokes and proceeded to unleash nine more sixes, including two in consecutive balls off both Mark Wood and Liam Plunkett.

Hope’s impressive innings of 64 off 65 deliveries came to an end when he top edged a ball from Ben Stokes – at that point the pick of the England bowlers – to Adil Rashid at third man. Hope had put on a 131-run partnerhship with Gayle off as many balls.

Shimron Hetmyer scored a quick-fire 20 off 15 balls but a loose shot off Woakes saw him easily caught by Roy at mid-off, and Roy took another catch to dismiss Pooran for a duck heaving Rashid to long-off.

Darren Bravo was off the mark with a six off Rashid and he hit three more on his way to 40 off 30 balls before holing out to Woakes at deep midwicket. That was one ball after Gayle, on 125, was dropped again, by Woakes off Rashid.

Gayle was finally dismissed when he dragged a Stokes delivery onto his stumps and he walked off to a standing ovation looking immensely satisfied. Stokes finished with 3-37, while Rashid had 3-74.

Ashley Nurse ended West Indies’ innings in style by hitting Rashid’s final ball for the record-breaking six – his third in an unbeaten knock of 25 off eight deliveries.

Kemar Roach, who was named Player of the Series after taking 18 wickets at 13.88 during the three Tests against England has been ruled out of the five-match one-day series with a back injury but the world No.9-ranked West Indies remained hopeful he would be fit for the World Cup, starting on May 30.

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