India vs West Indies, 3rd ODI: Gayle onslaught sets India 255 for series win
Chris Gayle raises his bat and helmet to the crowd after getting out. © AFP

Chris Gayle put on a show with a flurry of fours and sixes as West Indies set India 255 (revised target) to win the rain-affected third and final ODI in Port of Spain on Wednesday. After opting to bat, Gayle alongside fellow opener Evin Lewis led a bright start as West Indies finished at 240/7 with the match reduced to 32-overs per side after a long rain delay.

Gayle was in imperious touch and started in his usual manner – saw out a maiden over, bowled by Bhuvneshwar Kumar before tearing into Mohammed Shami (2/50) with a six over long-on which gave way to the first but brief rain-break. Upon resumption, Lewis shrugged off his slow start which saw him scoring 1 off his first 10 deliveries faced with back-to-back fours and a six in an over of Bhuvneshwar. But it was Gayle who dominated the show as he dispatched anything thrown at him. Short deliveries were pulled with disdain and full deliveries brutalised without shame. Both India new-ball bowlers Bhuvneshwar and Shami leaked plenty of runs, all around the park.

Khaleel Ahmed, the first bowling change, made no difference. Lewis clobbering a six off the first delivery and then proceeding with two more fours as West Indies sprinted to 79/0 in 8 overs.

Shami was taken off and so would Bhuvneshwar after yet another expensive over saw him leaking 18 runs. India captain Virat Kohli persisted with Khaleel and Gayle raced away to his fifty with a six off the left-armer – 54th of his ODI career.

Seeing the beating his pace bowlers were subjected to, Kohli brought in legspinner Yuzvendra Chahal (1/32) who immediately rewarded with the wicket of Lewis who looking to go big, ended up with a top-edge to be caught on 43 off 29.

Gayle followed him in the next over but not before belting eight fours and five sixes. The sight of Indian fielders rushing to congratulate him and the West Indies dressing room standing up to applaud as he made his way back gave an impression this was to be his final ODI innings. He scored 72 off 41, a fitting end to his career if that’s so.

With an opening stand worth 114, the foundation was laid. But with two new batsmen in Shimron Hetmyer and Shai Hope, Indian bowlers saw an opportunity. Spinners were introduced who slowed down the proceedings a bit. And then along came the rain. After a frustrating wait lasting just over three hours, the contest finally resumed with West Indies 158/2 in 22 overs.

The time lost resulted in reduction of overs making it 32-overs per side contest. West Indies managed 82 from their final 13 overs thanks to a 16-ball 30 from Nicholas Pooran after the pair of Hetmyer (25 off 32) and Hope (24 off 52) struggled to push the scoring rate on resumption. Khaleel was expensive leaking 68 runs but also picked up three wickets, the most for India.

Brief Score: West Indies 240/7 (Chris Gayle 72, Evin Lewis 43; Khaleel Ahmed 3/68) vs India