MIRPUR, Bangladesh (CMC):
West Indies opener Chris Gayle returned to form with a spectacular hundred for Dhaka Gladiators on Friday, to fire them into the final of the Bangladesh Premier League.
The left-hander hammered 114 from 51 balls as Dhaka, sent in at the Shere Bangla National Stadium, piled up 197 for nine.
His West Indies teammate Dwayne Smith then smashed 41 from 34 balls as Sylhet Royals made a fist of it to finish on 193 for six from their 20 overs.
The victory put Dhaka into Tuesday's grand final where they will face the winners of today's semi-final between Chittagong Kings and the Royals.
Gayle struggled badly in last month's Big Bash League and on the recent one-day tour of Australia but put his poor form behind him at a critical time for Dhaka.
In his first match of the BPL, the left-hander blasted five fours and a remarkable 12 sixes to announce his arrival.
Sri Lanka's Tillakaratne Dilshan fell to the first ball of the innings and Mohammad Ashraful in the second over as Dhaka slipped to one run for two wickets, after they were sent in.
However, Gayle carried the innings on his shoulders with three critical partnerships that boosted the Dhaka innings. He put on 62 off 34 balls for the third wicket with Bangladesh star all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan (38), added a further 56 for the sixth wicket with West Indies teammate Kieron Pollard (18) and 71 for the seventh wicket with Mashrafe Mortaza (10).
In the 14th over form left-arm spinner Suhrawadi Shuvo that cost 24 runs, Gayle smashed three sixes and a four to reach his half-century.
In reply, captain Mushfiqur Rahim top scored with 86 from 44 balls, in a 82-run, third wicket stand with Smith, after veteran West Indies left-hander Shiv Chanderpaul (5) was one of two early wickets to fall.
Yesterday, Trinidadian Kevon Cooper Chittagong Kings reached today's semi-final when they beat Duronto Rajshahi by four wickets in the elimination final.
Playing at the Shere Bangla National Stadium, Duronto Rajshahi reached 107 for seven from their 20 overs, after opting to bat first.
Zimbabwe's Sean Ervine top scored with 47 from 48 balls with four fours and a six, while 17-year-old seamer Taskin Ahmed was the best bowler with four for 31.
Cooper, who bowls right-arm medium pace, went wicketless but his four overs were miserly and cost just 20 runs.
In reply, England's Ravi Bopara steered the Kings to their target with an unbeaten 34 from 30 balls while Englishman Jason Roy stroked a cameo 30 from 24 balls at the top of the order.
Cooper had no luck with the bat, however, run out without scoring in the 15th over at 87 for six.