ST GEORGE’S, Grenada – Superstar Chris Gayle smashed a sensational, unbeaten hundred to propel title-holders Jamaica Tallawahs to a comfortable seven-wicket victory over St Lucia Zouks at the National Stadium here Saturday.
The powerful left-hander slammed 111 off just 63 deliveries – his first CPL hundred – as Tallawahs easily chased down their target off 162 off 19 overs, to send a strong signal to their competition at the start of the 2014 edition of the regional tournament.
Gayle, who has struggled with injury in recent months, showed no sign of discomfort as he blasted five fours and ten massive sixes, ripping into the hapless Zouks bowlers who had no answer to the onslaught.
He posted 32 for the opening wicket with fellow Jamaican Chadwick Walton who scored 23 from 12 balls before dominating a 64-run second wicket stand with Jermaine Blackwood who got just eight.
Gayle, playing at his destructive best, then posted another 55 runs for the third wicket with Australia’s Adam Voges who managed just 15.
His performance completely overshadowed a decent batting effort by the Zouks who rattled up 161 for five off their 20 overs, after winning the toss and choosing to bat.
South Africa’s Henry Davids top scored with 56 from 38 balls, striking five fours and two sixes while captain Darren Sammy finished on 29 not out from 22 balls with three boundaries.
Johnson Charles and Andre Fletcher both got 27.
Seamer Andre Russell took two for 27 from his three overs.
Tallawahs began their run chase on a high, with Walton blasting two fours and a six off the first over from medium pacer Mervin Matthew which cost 15 runs.
Gayle got going with a six over long-on off left-arm spinner Garey Mathurin in the third over which cost 13 runs but then lost Walton when the right-hander holed out to cover off Pakistani left-arm seamer Sohail Tanvir in the fourth over.
But Gayle continued his onslaught, smashing Matthew for two fours and a six in the sixth over which cost 17 runs, as Jamaica motored past 50.
He then ripped into South African left-arm spinner Roelof van der Merwe in the bowler’s first over, first clearing the ropes and long on before going straight for another six, in the ninth over of the innings that went for 15 runs. He raised his half-century off 30 balls with the second six.
Blackwood’s struggles ended when he holed out to long-on off off-spinner Shane Shillingford, after facing 18 balls for just eight, but Gayle sustained the tempo of the innings nicely, gathering 17 runs from medium pacer Sammy’s second over that cost 17 runs.
He inched his way through the 90s before reaching three figures off the first ball of the 19th over with a single to long-on off Matthew.
Gayle then finished the game with more fireworks, hammering Matthew through mid-wicket for four, pulling him over square leg for six, before punching a single to long-on to achieve victory. (CMC)