Wow! If anyone ever had any doubts that Chris Gayle could smack a cricket ball long and hard, then you should definitely check out the highlights of yesterdays play at the WACA. Responding to Australia’s enormous first innings total, Chris Gayle showed why he is the most destructive player in the world by smacking the 5th fastest test century in the history of the game. But whether it leaves his team in a position to level the series is another question.
Australia declared their innings earlier on day two at 7/520, in what commentators described as a ‘sporting declaration’. However, when all you have to do is draw the game, Ricky Ponting surely knew that a first innings score over 500 has all but assured that his team cannot lose this match. Brad Haddin (88) and Marcus North (68) were well supported by Mitch Johnson (35) as the Aussies piled on the runs, although strangely the Aussie batsmen just can’t seem to crack triple figures. Again, the West Indian bowling was pretty pathetic, and at times they seemed to be just waiting for Ponting’s declaration.
However, once the declaration came it seemed clear that Gayle wanted to show that his slow-going 165* at the Adelaide Oval was a mere aberration, as he plundered all the Aussie bowlers in some of the best hitting I have ever seen. Mitch Johnson and Nathan ‘Hurricane’ Hauritz were particularly savaged by Gayle, including an enormous six on the roof of the stadium off Johnson. I watched Gayle hit a slightly bigger six on the roof of the stand at The Oval against Brett Lee, but this one wasn’t far off the mark. However, all good things must come to an end, and in fact even the patriotic crowd were disappointed when Gayle hit a limp catch to Shane Watson to be out for 102. Although one felt at the time that the Windies might capitulate, Travis Dowlin (55) and Ronny Sarwan (42*) showed some good resistance and kept the Windies in the match.
But in all honesty it’s very unlikely that they can win the game. They are still some 300 runs behind and they need to score these quickly, which will be difficult without Gayle. Perhaps an early declaration might be an option if they get within about a hundred runs. Then they could possibly hope that Benn might take advantage of an aged pitch, and see if they can dismiss Australia for a small total, but it all seems unlikely. The Windies must try something though, there is no point in grounding out a draw, they must try to win this match, and if their cavalier captain gets another chance in the middle chasing down a smallish total…well…who knows.
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