Special return for Gayle with century
North Sound, Antigua – Chris Gayle continued on Friday from where he left off on Thursday as he made his 14th Test match century to put the West Indies in full control over New Zealand on the third day of the first Digicel Test.
He played some awesome shots, none better that a savage pull which carried over the midwicket boundary for six off pacer Chris Martin, and brought up the century.
Gayle eventually fell for 150, ending his four hours of entertainment for the crowd at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium Cricket Ground, including the great Sir Vivian himself. Overall he faced 206 balls and smashed 17 fours and four sixes. It was his third century against New Zealand, the others - 202 in Grenada in 2002 and 197 in Napier in 2008.
“I was motivated to do something special and as a team we were motivated to get the better of New Zealand. After coming off the good performances in the One-Day Series and the T20s, we wanted to make sure that we did not surrender the initiative. I am happy to be here playing Test cricket for the West Indies and I’m delighted to perform and get my 14th Test century,” Gayle said.
“You have to be mentally strong out there. I was able to put the team in a good position. Being back in the team and wearing the maroon cap in Test cricket is a great feeling and I’m really happy with the performance so far.”
The 32-year-old left-hander featured in a record opening partnership of 254 with 22-year-old Kieran Powell who made 134, his maiden Test century.
The West Indies also got solid performances from Assad Fudadin, 55, his maiden half-century in Test cricket; and Narsingh Deonarine, who will resume on 54 on Saturday. Gayle, who is in his 92nd Test match, was full of praise for Powell, who is in his 10th Test match.
“I didn’t have to give him (Powell) a lot of advice. I just told him to play his natural game and stick to the basics. He knows what he’s about and he was able to handle the situations quite well. He’s got a good head on his shoulders and I was happy to see him get his first Test hundred. Every individual has his own style and he knows the areas where he can score and he played some very good shots,” Gayle said.
“You have to give him a lot of credit. He was patient and he selected the right balls to hit. There were times when he had a bit of difficulty scoring, but he was able to hang in there and helped to rotate the strike. I’m very happy for him.”
Looking ahead to Saturday, Gayle noted: “We still have batting left. We have the captain there at the crease and Narsingh is there with him, so if we can get 50 or more runs on the board that would be good for us.
It was a good team effort with the batters getting runs on the board. Tomorrow (Saturday) will be a key day for us and we back the bowlers to perform for us in the second innings.
“We are in a good position. We would like to capitalise on this as we don’t know what will happen in Jamaica. When you get a chance like this you have to try and push it to the end. We will look to play smart cricket in the first session tomorrow and that will set the tone for the day.”