Brilliant Gayle leads West Indies to warm-up win

LONDON, England -- West Indies captain Chris Gayle went on a six-hitting spree as he led the team to a brilliant win in their opening warm-up match ahead of the International Cricket Council’s World Twenty20 2009 Tournament.

The powerful left-hander smashed seven huge sixes as well as six fours to reach 88 not out off 56 balls as the West Indies had a nine-wicket win over Ireland at The Oval. The knock led the West Indies to 134-1 off just 16 overs in reply to 130-7 made Ireland in 20 overs. With Gayle at the end was Ramnaresh Sarwan, who made 25 not out from 23 balls in an unbroken stand of 79 from just 53 balls.

Earlier in the day the West Indies bowlers set-up the match by keeping the Irish batsmen in check. Left-arm spinner Sulieman Benn took 2-24 from four overs.

After the match Gayle said he was pleased with the team’s overall performance as they get ready to meet Australia and Sri Lanka in the group phase.

“It is good to get a win under our belt. People will say it was Ireland and they are a weaker opponent, but if they had defeated us it would have been a different story… so we are happy with the fact that we came here and did the job and the manner in which we did, by dominating the game,” Gayle said.

The West Indies will have their second official warm-up match against England at Lord’s on Wednesday at 530 pm (1230 pm Eastern Caribbean Time/1130 am Jamaica Time) 3. The first tournament match will be against Australia at the Oval on June 6 followed by a meeting with Sri Lanka at Trent Bridge on June 10.

“We are now looking forward to meeting England in the second warm-up match and then get ready for Australia on Saturday. We are in a tough zone and it would be nice to have a winning start against Australia as well. We would like to win this tournament to bring smiles on the faces of our fans and bring back that happiness, but we will take it step by step, one match at a time.”