Gayle shines on dark morning

Chris Gayle's power has helped the West Indies to a good start against England

Chris Gayle's power has helped the West Indies to a good start against England

First published in National Sport © by

Chris Gayle's renowned power hitting has arrived with a vengeance at The Oval, much to England's cost in the early exchanges of the second NatWest Series match.

A sombre atmosphere following the death of Tom Maynard on Monday inevitably hung over the young Surrey batsman's home ground - where a minute's silence in his memory preceded the start of play, flags remained at half-mast and both teams wore black armbands.

Once under way, the hope was that exciting cricket might lift spirits or at least divert the senses - and Gayle did not disappoint as he reached 53 runs before being called out by a tight lbw decision.

He appeared in no hurry by his standards as James Anderson and Steve Finn bowled three maidens in the first four overs. But it transpired Gayle was merely biding his time before powering the Windies to a 15-over total of 63 for one in company with near silent opening partner Lendl Simmons.

Once he had deposited Anderson for his first six, sent thudding into the electronic scoreboard with a pull high over midwicket, four more followed in 10 balls.

Gayle greeted first-change Tim Bresnan with three sixes in his first over, the last on to the roof of the Bedser Stand at wide long-on.

His last maximum, off Anderson, brought a brief lull in proceedings while England summoned help to retrieve the ball from a trough underneath the press box.

When Gayle reached his 50, with an incongruous nudge to midwicket for a single off Bresnan, Simmons was still in single-figures.

England had conceded only eight runs from the first five overs, but 48 in the next six as Gayle gathered momentum in a 41-ball half-century containing three fours and those five sixes.

He seemed to be on the fast track to marking the occasion with a 20th one-day international hundred too, until Graeme Swann won the tightest of lbw decisions against the left-hander.

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