Wednesday, September 12, 2007

South Africa beat West Indis in World Twenty20 Opener

If ever there was a ground where records would be broken, it would have to be the Wanderers. The groundsman, Chris Scott, predicted as much before the ICC World Twenty20 got underway on Tuesday.

And true to form for the oval which produced that famous 872-run ODI between South Africa and Australia last year, Tuesday's opener between the home side and the West Indies saw the record books being rewritten once again with Chris Gayle becoming the first Twenty20 International centurion and South Africa producing the highest run chase at the
Wanderers ground to win by eight wickets.

While records are inevitable in such a new format of the game where few internationals have been played, the crowd had to take their hard-hats off to Gayle and Gibbs who put in some incredible performances.

After Smith won the toss and sent the West Indies in to bat, it seemed that opener Gayle was inspired by all the hard-hats being worn by the crowd. The powerful left-hander looked determined to put them to the test as he smashed the ball all over the park.

He reached his 50 in 26 balls and together with Devon Smith shattered the first record of the night in producing the highest opening partnership in Twenty20 Internationals. The duo reached 145 before Smith was caught behind off Vernon Philander's first over of the evening for 35.

Gayle took the loss of his batting partner in his stride, however, and continued to punish the bowlers. Even the usually stingy Shaun Pollock had 52 runs blasted from his allotted four overs.

He could take some consolation from bagging the wicket of Marlon Samuels who skied one to AB de Villiers and returned to the dug-out with six runs on the board.

But that did little to slow Gayle down and the Jamaican soon had another record in the bag after becoming the first player to score a century in Twenty20 Internationals.

That he did off just 50 balls before finally falling to Johan van der Wath for 117, after smashing one high into the Jo'burg night sky only for it to fall into the gloves of Boucher just a few steps from the wicket. He had cracked a record 10 sixes in his breathtaking innings.

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