Gayle smashes T20 record fifty off 12 balls
MELBOURNE, Australia (CMC):
Mercurial Chris Gayle equalled the fastest ever half-century in Twenty20s with an extraordinary knock as he brought the curtain down on his controversial - and perhaps final - campaign in the Australia Big Bash here yesterday.
With Melbourne Renegades needing to overhaul Adelaide Strikers' 170 in order to have a chance at a semi-final spot, opener Gayle blasted a top score of 56 off 17 deliveries, but wickets fell steadily around him and the hosts came up short at 143 all out in the 16th over to lose by 27 runs.
Gayle, who will perhaps best be remembered in this tournament for his controversial 'Don't blush, Baby' remarks to Channel Ten reporter Mel McLaughlin a fortnight ago, set the stage for the run chase by racing to his 50 in record pace.
He smashed two fours and seven sixes en route as he equalled the previous record set by Indian left-hander Yuvraj Singh nine years ago against England in Durban during the Twenty20 World Cup.
Gayle plundered 26 runs from the first over of the innings sent down by 21-year-old rookie seamer Greg West, which cost 27 runs.
After starting with a wide, West watched as Gayle collected a couple to mid-wicket. The left-handed Jamaican blocked the second delivery but then burst to life, clearing the ropes with the remaining four deliveries of the over.
The first six was a savage pull over mid-wicket; the second was an even bigger hit into the same area; while the third sailed over backward square leg. Gayle ended the over by depositing a full toss over long on.
In the third over from seamer Ben Laughlin, Gayle belted sixes over long off and then over mid-wicket to move into the 40s before punching the right-armer to the long-off boundary.
Off the first ball of the next over, he drew level with Yuvraj when he cleared the ropes at long on with off-spinner Travis Head.
Disappointingly, Gayle fell in Head's next over, the sixth of the innings, top-edging a catch behind - the last of the bowler's first three wickets.
The half-century was Gayle's first in eight innings in the Big Bash this season.
Despite his fireworks, Renegades capitulated with opener Tom Cooper and West Indies all-rounder Dwayne Bravo suffering the indignity of first-ball 'ducks' and captain Cameron White managing just six.
Earlier, Tim Ludeman hit 49 and Jono Dean, 48, in an opening stand of 85 off 64 deliveries, which gave Strikers a flying start.
At the end, captain Brad Hodge stroked a cameo, unbeaten 37 off just 21 deliveries in a 55-run, fifth-wicket stand off 31 balls with Jake Lehmann (24).
Bravo claimed one for 36 from his four overs of medium pace.
Renegades' defeat ensured that AndrÈ Russell's Sydney Thunder booked their first spot in the BBL semi-finals.