GALLE // The former captain Chris Gayle hit an explosive double century to propel West Indies to 362 for two on the opening day of the first Test against Sri Lanka.
The tall left-hander smashed the ball in all parts the ground, batting throughout the day to finish unbeaten on 219 off 247 balls.
Gayle's effort comprised eight sixes and 26 fours on a placid pitch. Shivnarine Chanderpaul was also 20 not out when stumps were drawn.
"The last time I toured here I didn't get many runs and struggled," an elated Gayle told reporters. "I was very happy to get an opportunity like this.
"It was a good day for us and now we just have to try and get about 500 runs."
Gayle, who has a top Test score of 317, reached his 13th century by hitting Ajantha Mendis for two consecutive sixes in an expensive over which cost the spinner 18 runs.
He celebrated with arms raised, flashed a broad grin, took off his helmet and lay flat on the ground to milk the applause.
Gayle was less exuberant upon reaching his double century with a single.
"I'd love to get past 317, that would be a milestone," he said. "The wicket is good to bat on. If I can get past the first hour tomorrow anything is possible."
Gayle had a scare on 65 when Sri Lanka used the referral system for an lbw decision off Mendis and television replays showed he got an inside edge on to his pads.
The opener was particularly severe on Mendis and fellow spinner Suraj Randiv, who went for a combined total of 234 runs.
Gayle and Adrian Barath put on 110 for the first wicket after Darren Sammy won the toss on his debut as Test captain.
Barath was dropped by Randiv on 35 after offering a head-high return catch but the spinner eventually got his man when he was caught at slip by Mahela Jayawardene on 50.
Darren Bravo then helped Gayle in a second-wicket partnership of 196, a record for any wicket between the two countries.
Bravo made his maiden Test half-century and was then dropped at short leg by Tharanga Paranavitana on 50.
He finally fell eight runs later when he top-edged a pull off Mendis to square leg.