BACK IN FORM: Chris Gayle

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Gayle ends drought with record half century

lMELBOURNE

Chris Gayle emerged from a run drought to hit a record half century, but the Sydney Thunder squandered his heroics and succumbed to a 13-run loss against the Melbourne Stars in the Australian Big Bash League yesterday.

Gayle finally got going in the tournament, powering his way to a fiery 65, but it was not enough as the Stars' pace attack ripped through the Thunder's middle order.

The Thunder was dismissed for 132 off 19.1 overs, as the Stars successfully defended a mediocre total of 145 for 8 at Melbourne.

The West Indies opening batsman shrugged off a dreadful personal series to unleash the mighty blows for which he is famous around the world.

He raced to the fastest half-century of the tournament in just 25 deliveries, pounding boundaries around the compass and two towering blows into the Great Southern Stand.

His 65 off just 43 balls included four sixes and six fours.

Gayle's array of shots included thumping Jackson Bird over the sightscreen in the second over and clubbing 19 runs from John Hastings' first over, as well as a contemptuous slap that cleared the longest boundary on the ground at midwicket.

However the Stars' belated ability to bowl some dot balls to him after his 50 eventually brought his downfall via a catch to Glenn Maxwell, who clung almost for life itself to an ambitious pull shot off Dimitri Mascarenhas.

Gayle's departure swung the momentum in favour of the Stars, who cashed in on some rash late Sydney Thunder batting to grind out a 13-run win and advance to the semi-finals.

Thunder have consigned themselves to a winless season and a 13th straight loss as a franchise.

Stars' win also keeps alive the career of captain Shane Warne, who is expected to lead his charges in the penultimate round after being banned from yesterday's game due to an on-field altercation with West Indies all-rounder Marlon Samuels.

—CMC

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