Chris “Universe Boss” Gayle once again proved his status as the greatest T20 batsman of all time as he helped the Jamaica Tallawahs to victory against the Trinbago Knight Riders in the Hero Caribbean Premier League (CPL). Having been set a massive 192 run target it took Gayle a while to get himself set, but once he launched he was unstoppable on his way to 108 not out.
It seemed that the Knight Riders had the upper hand in this game, especially with Sunil Narine bowling superbly as he conceded just nine runs from his four overs. That was until the 13th over of the Tallawahs chase when Sulieman Benn was brought into the attack and conceded 30 runs from one over, including four Hero Maximums from Gayle. From there it was a simple chase for the Tallawahs.
This was Gayle’s 18th Twenty20 hundred, a world record, the next man on the list has just seven. It was a lone hand from Gayle as the next highest run scorer in the innings was Andre Russell with 24. Gayle took a game that was all but lost and won it on his own as he made a second hundred in as many matches at Queen’s Park Oval. The only time Gayle had a moment of concern was when he was dismissed off a no ball on 94. He hit the subsequent free hit for six to bring up his ton. It all seemed so easy for him, but to put this into context, this was the second highest successful run chase in the history of T20 cricket in the Caribbean.
A sublime innings of 74 from Hashim Amla had taken him to the very top of the Hero CPL 2016 run-scoring charts and also helped the Trinbago Knight Riders to what seemed a very competitive total.
This match is the last that will be played at the Queen’s Park Oval this season and having made the ground a virtual fortress in their title winning campaign last year a win was vital for the Knight Riders going forward, but for Gayle they would have had that victory.
The Knight Riders got off the a rip-roaring start in their innings, making 40 runs off the first four overs of the match, all of them delivered by spinners Imad Wasim and Shakib al Hasan. New Zealander Brendon McCullum was the man who was most responsible for that start, he made 35 runs from just 18 balls. He fell in the last over of the PowerPlay when he chopped a ball from Imad onto his stumps, but he had done his job of injecting impetus into this innings and he allowed Amla to play himself in at the other end.
Amla made the most of this breathing space that was given to him by his opening partner as he anchoring the Knight Riders innings with 74 from 52 deliveries. Amla was given a life on 36 when he cut a ball from Rovman Powell straight to Imad Wasim at backward point and a relatively simple chance was shelled by the Pakistani all-rounder. Then he got another let off when he top-edged a Dale Steyn off-cutter straight up but Kumar Sangakkara could not claim a spiralling catch. Amla was on 50 at the time.
At the other end Colin Munro was combining with Amla in a partnership that was worth 102 runs. Fresh from making the first Hero CPL century by an overseas player against the Guyana Amazon Warriors in the last match Munro made a 39-ball 55.
On another day, on almost any other day, that would have been a winning stand. But they came up against an in-form Gayle.