Chris Gayle sweeps England aside

Agence France Presse

London, July 7:

Chris Gayle’s 132 not out in his 100th one-day international took West Indies into the Natwest Series final with a seven-wicket win against England at Lord’s here on Tuesday. Not even a total of 285 for seven feauring a record stand of 226 between all-rounder Andrew Flintoff (123) and Andrew Strauss (100) could prevent England extending a losing streak batting first that stretched back to last year’s World Cup. It also meant that every completed game in this tournament had been won by the team fielding first. West Indies, who face New Zealand at the Rose Bowl on Thursday, will be up against the already-qualified Black Caps in Saturday’s Lord’s final.

Gayle, together with Ramnaresh Sarwan (89), put on 187 in 188 balls for the second wicket as they took the game away from England. Left-handed opener Gayle, the man-of-the-match, faced 165 balls with one six and three fours as West Indies won with five balls to spare.

Ricardo Powell added late impetus with a dashing 33 not out off 22 balls in an unbroken stand of 68 with Gayle. It was tough on Flintoff who for the second match in a row found self making a hundred in a losing cause after his 106, his maiden one-day international century, in Sunday’s six-wicket reverse against New Zealand.

But England were left rueing the fact that the containing all-rounder was unable to bowl because of an ankle injury. Paul Collingwood and Vaughan’s combined 10 overs cost 68 runs, while fast spearhead, Stephen Harmison, usually a reliable source of wickets, had an equally fruitless return of 10 overs for 51. Left-hander Andrew Strauss and Flintoff’s stand of 226 rescued England from the depths of 54 for three against a Windies attack lacking pacemen Jermaine Lawson (flu) and Ravi Rampaul (shin). It was an England one-day international record for all wickets surpassing the previous best of 213 set by Neil Fairbrother and Graeme Hick against the West Indies at Lord’s in 1991. Flintoff faced 104 balls with six sixes and eight fours winth Strauss in for 116 balls with two sixes and eight fours.

In reply, Darren Gough had man of the match Gayle, 19, dropped in the covers by Strauss before James Anderson put down Sarwan, on 16, off his own bowling. England needed to take every opportunity that came their way but saw another slip away bwhen Strauss only had to lob the ball to bowler Collingwood to run out Sarwan on 54. But instead he went for the direct hit and missed.