x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Gayle force that failed to rock the boat

There will be few tears shed for Chris Gayle in a month when the West Indian captain became an instant dollar millionaire.

Pakistani cricketers Umer Gul, left, and Shahid Afridi hold the Fortune Cup as they celebrate winning against the West Indies in Abu Dhabi.
Pakistani cricketers Umer Gul, left, and Shahid Afridi hold the Fortune Cup as they celebrate winning against the West Indies in Abu Dhabi.

ABU DHABI // There will be few tears of sympathy being shed for Chris Gayle in a month when the West Indian captain became an instant dollar millionaire by guiding his team to the most emphatic of Stanford Challenge Twenty20 victories over a hapless England team. But it was hard not to feel sorry for the big left-hander yesterday as the dust settled on a three-match battle with Pakistan on neutral UAE soil.

The powerful opener did more than anybody to thrill the crowds who flocked to the Zayed Stadium for the Fortune Cup series which concluded on Sunday with a Pakistani whitewash of their Caribbean opponents. Two sparkling centuries in his three innings - he suffered the embarrassment of being dismissed for a duck in the other - should have brought the West Indies some reward to take home from their visit to the Middle East. However, Gayle and his men came up frustratingly short each time against Shoaib Malik's determined side.

When Gayle was batting at his destructive six-hitting best in the opening match, West Indies looked assured winners. But when the captain departed for 113, his colleagues failed to capitalise on the platform and failed to post what should have been an intimidating 300-plus total. Similarly in the final dead rubber, with the series already lost, Gayle was again shaping up to be the match winner as he benefited from a misunderstanding between Saeed Ajmal and the captain Malik himself. Gayle, who had only two runs to his credit, went on to add 120 runs and become the highest scorer at the venue and take his team within sight of Pakistan's target of 274.

When Akmal eventually did hold on to a Gayle edge, the West Indies went into yet another downward spiral to throw away their position for the third time and eventually succumb by a margin of 31 runs. The result meant much to the Pakistani team who frequently went into "huddles" as the wickets tumbled with Malik sending out a message that he would not allow any relaxation in a match where only pride was at stake.

Malik had watched during the daylight session as Younis Khan steadied the Pakistani innings with a stylish century which was made easier by some careless West Indian fielding. Khan had entered the fray after the opener Salman Butt fell on the first ball of the match. The valuable support that Younis received from the unbeaten Misbah-ul-Haq proved pivotal for a third victory for Pakistan. If Gayle had been given even half that amount of help from his colleagues, the winning total would have been no where near enough.

@Email:wjohnson@thenational.ae