Galle, Sri Lanka – Chris Gayle hit a sensational double century as the West Indies reached an imposing 362-2 on the first day of the 1st ERI Test match against Sri Lanka at the Galle International Stadium on Monday.
The powerful left-hander hit the ball to all parts of the ground and batted all day to end on 219 not out off just 247 balls. It has been a thrilling knock by the 31-year-old who has so far smashed a record eight sixes and 26 fours.
After the end of the day’s play Gayle said he was delighted with the performance, but alerted the Sri Lankan bowlers that he will be looking for more runs on Tuesday. He has his eyes on surpassing his career-best 317 made against South Africa at the Antigua Recreation Ground.
"I’d love to get past 317. That would be a milestone. The pitch is an excellent one to bat on and I want to cash in. If I can get past the first hour tomorrow anything is possible. I want to bat on. I was pleased I batted all the way to the end of the day and I will be able to come back tomorrow. Before the tour I was aware that the only three teams I had not scored Test centuries against were Sri Lanka, Pakistan and India, so now I have one against Sri Lanka," Gayle said.
When he reached his century Gayle sat on the pitch, then fell flat on his back and then uttered words of delight. His century came in off 116 balls, his 150 came off 160 balls, and he required just 221 balls to reach the double-century.
He said: "I was shouting out in glory and joy. I was really happy. The last time I toured here I did not get a half-century in the Test series and I struggled, so once I got this opportunity I was happy to reach the milestone. We had a good day but we have to keep going. We have to look for over 500 runs and we have to make sure that as a team we don’t give anything away."
It was Gayle’s 13th Test century and sixth score over 150. His other big scores: 317 vs South Africa in Antigua; 204 vs New Zealand in Grenada; 197 vs New Zealand at Napier; 175 v Zimbabwe at Bulawayo; and 165 not out against Australia at Adelaide a year ago.
His eight sixes were the most by a West Indian in a single Test innings. One of the sixes travelled 135 metres and over the roof of the main grand stand; while in one over he played back-to-back reverse sweeps to the boundary as he showcased his dominance.
Gayle is now just two runs away from equalling Brian Lara’s 221 – as the highest score by a West Indian against Sri Lanka. Gayle added 196 for the second wicket with debutant Darren Bravo – a record for West Indies against Sri Lanka and also a ground record. Earlier in the day he added 115 for the first wicket with Adrian Barath, who made 50 in his fifth Test innings. Gayle was full of praise for the two young batsmen.
"Barath played really well at the top of the innings. At the start of the day we said we were looking to build big partnerships and he played very well. Young Bravo came in and showed a lot of maturity and understanding for someone in his first Test match. He handled himself very well in the middle."
Gayle added: "I would love to win a Test here in Sri Lanka. It won’t be easy, but what we have to do is to continue to build on what we did today and be positive in whatever we do. We have to build a big total, then look to get 10 wickets in the first innings and another 10 in the second innings. We have started well and we need to carry on."