JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, CMC – Chris Gayle was again sensational as West Indies incredibly pulled off the highest ever run chase in the history of Twenty20 Internationals, to beat South Africa by four wickets with four balls to spare, and clinch a winning 2-0 lead in the three-match series here yesterday.
The big-hitting opener top-scored with a stunning 90 off 41 balls to help West Indies overhaul South Africa’s 231 for seven and silence a capacity crowd which crammed into the Wanderers.
Gayle struck nine fours and seven sixes and put on a record 152 for the second wicket with Marlon Samuels who stroked a classy 60 from a mere 39 balls, with seven fours and two sixes.
Their heroics outshone South Africa’s captain Faf du Plessis who unfurled a classic 119 off 56 balls, his maiden T20 hundred, to guide the hosts to the fourth highest T20 International total, after they were sent in.
South Africa lost two early wickets but du Plessis counted 11 fours and five sixes and combined with David Miller, who struck 47 off 26 balls with four fours and three sixes, in an up tempo 105 for the third wicket.
The partnership was finally broken when Andre Russell ran out Miller at the non-striker’s end in the 11th over with the Windies running out of ideas, and du Plessis added a further 66 for the fifth wicket with Farhaan Behardien (8 not out), before he holed out at the end of the 19th over off pacer Jason Holder.
Seamer Dwayne Bravo (2-32) and Holder (2-40) finished with two wickets apiece.
Left with the challenge of re-writing history, the Windies seemed in danger of wasting the brilliance of Gayle and Samuels when they lost five wickets for 38 runs, slumping from 171 for one in the 14th over to 206 for six in the 18th.
But captain Darren Sammy uncorked a little cameo of 20 not out off seven balls, with two fours and a six, that lifted West Indies over the line.
The game, though, remained up for grabs with the Caribbean side requiring 21 runs from the last two overs only for Sammy and Denesh Ramdin (7 not out) to belt wayward speedster Kyle Abbott for 18 runs off the penultimate over.
With three runs needed from the last six balls and victory all but assured, Sammy finished the game in style by depositing fast bowler Marchant de Lange over the ropes at deep mid-wicket, to spark celebrations among the visitors.
Needing to score at nearly 12 an over to win, West Indies displayed their attacking intent from as early as the first over when Dwayne Smith gathered three fours off Abbott. He took another one off de Lange in the second over before missing the next delivery and falling lbw for 17.
Gayle and Samuels then launched an exhibition of stroke-play which left South Africa in disarray.
While Gayle struck the ball with brute force, Samuels was surgical in his execution, as they scored at a remarkable rate of 13 runs an over through the first ten overs.
The left-handed Gayle came to life in the third over bowled by Abbott. The first ball was a dot one but Gayle then crunched four consecutive off-side boundaries before finishing off with a six over mid-wicket.
Not to be left out, Samuels punched seamer David Wiese past mid-off for four in the next over and then struck him for a straight six to end the over – a shot that raised the Windies fifty off just 24 deliveries.
Gayle took another two fours and a six off Abbott in the fifth over that cost 15 runs while Samuels singlehandedly took another 16 from the sixth over from Wiese, as the first six overs gushed 86 runs.
A straight six off leg-spinner Imran Tahir’s third ball of the innings brought Gayle his second half-century in three days, and his 13th in T20 Internationals, and he quickly celebrated by tearing into Aaron Phangiso with two sixes and a four in the left-arm spinner’s second over.
The century stand – the best for any wicket against the Proteas in T20s – came off 43 balls in the ninth over and Samuels strolled to his half-century off 29 balls in the 13thover, before the partnership ended when Gayle missed a tired- looking dab to third man and was caught behind off Wiese (3-43).
Samuels followed nine balls later with seven runs added, holing out to long on in Wiese’s next over, and the customary collapse followed with Kieron Pollard (7), Andre Russell (14) and Bravo (10) all perishing cheaply as the game tilted South Africa’s way.
Sammy, however, kept his wits about him and pulled the innings around with a late flourish.