SABINA BOYS SHINE
Samuels, Gayle put Windies 2-0 up
The outstanding Chris Gayle struck a record-breaking 20th One-Day International century while Marlon Samuels hammered his first in six years as West Indies brushed aside hapless New Zealand by 55 runs to take a 2-0 lead in the five-match series here yesterday.
Sent in at Sabina Park in the second of two matches in three days at the venue, West Indies piled up 315 for five off their 50 overs, with Gayle smashing a typically stroke-filled 125 and Jamaican counterpart Samuels getting an unbeaten 101.
In reply, New Zealand faltered from a position of 121 for two to 260 all out, to lose their fourth straight match in series following on from their dismal performance in the Twenty20 series last weekend.
BJ Watling stroked an attacking, unbeaten 72 and captain Kane Williamson (59) and the experienced Martin Guptill (51) gathered half-centuries but the target proved beyond their capabilities.
Fast bowler Ravi Rampaul led the West Indies attack with three for 50 while beguiling off-spinner Sunil Narine (two for 45) and part-time off-spinner Samuels (two for 46), provided support with a brace of wickets apiece.
The victory was, however, set up by Gayle who took centre stage before his home crowd in another well-paced innings at the top of the order to guide the Windies.
He hit eight fours and nine sixes off 107 balls to register his first ODI century in three years and surpass legendary batsman Brian Lara for the most centuries in one-day cricket by a West Indian.
The innings represented the fourth time in five innings Gayle has gone past fifty since his return to West Indies colours last month, following a lengthy stand-off with the West Indies Cricket Board.
Samuels, meanwhile, extended his superb form that started on the tour of England as he carved out his third ODI century and his first-ever three figure score in international cricket in the Caribbean.
The right-hander faced 103 balls and struck seven fours and one six.
He and Gayle added 129 for the third wicket in a rollicking stand that put the Windies course for their eventual total.
Yet again, opener Lendl Simmons fell cheaply when he edged fast bowler Tim Southee (3-55) behind for three at ten for one in the fourth over of the innings.
Gayle then put on 88 for the second wicket with Dwayne Smith who hit 24 from 36 balls before holing out to long-off off leg-spinner Tarun Nethula in the 19th over.
The big-hitting left-hander emerged from a quiet start to belt three straight sixes off the fifth over of the innings from seamer Kyle Mills which cost 18 runs and greeted off-spinner Nathan McCullum's introduction in the seventh over with another straight six and a sizzling cut for four.
He reached 50 off 42 balls and celebrated by clearing the ground with Nethula, one of his three sixes off the rookie right-armer.
Gayle moved into the 90s with his seventh six – a mighty blow over long-off off slow bowler Rob Nicol – and cruised to the brink of three figures with a straight six off left-arm spinner Daniel Flynn's only over.
An under-edge from an attempted sweep off Williamson's part-time off-breaks saw Gayle to his landmark before he eventually fell to a catch in the deep off Mills at 227 for three in the 38th over.
In contrast, Samuels was all grace and elegance, raising his half-century with an exquisite square cut off Mills in the 36th over.
He followed up with three consecutive scintillating extra cover drives off Southee as he raced towards his landmark.
Kieron Pollard (eight) and Dwayne Bravo (three) were both removed by Southee but captain Darren Sammy joined Samuels to put on 62 off 36 balls in an unbroken sixth wicket stand.
Sammy finished on 31 from 21 balls.
With the early damage done, it was left to their bowlers to complete the job.
They got Nicol for 15 with the score on 24 in the sixth over to a catch at mid-wicket by Sammy off Rampaul and Narine claimed Flynn for 21 at 62 for two to a sharp catch at slip by Dwayne Bravo in the 12th over.
Two partnerships then briefly threatened the Windies' march to victory.
Guptill, who hit five fours off 81 balls, put on 59 for the third wicket with Williamson whose knock came from 65 balls with four fours and six.
When Samuels claimed Guptill and Tom Latham (2) in successive overs to leave the Kiwis on 125 for four in the 28th over, Watling joined Williamson to add a further 70 for the fifth wicket.
Wiliamson was lbw on review to Rampaul in the 37th over but Watling played superbly to the end, striking four fours and two sixes off just 62 balls.