Gayle, Pollard power West Indies to 330/8

By Pragya Tiwari, IANS
Monday, February 28, 2011

NEW DELHI - The West Indies top order fired against a blunt Netherlands attack and rustled up a massive 330 for eight in their World Cup Group B match at the Ferozeshah Kotla stadium here Monday.

Put into bat by the Netherlands, Chris Gayle (80, 110 balls, 7×4, 2×6) and Devon Smith (53, 51b, 9×4) stitched a century opening stand to give the West Indies a solid start. Ramnaresh Sarwan (49) anchored the innings in the middle overs and Kieron Pollard (60 off 27 balls) provided the late charge.

Pollard, who was promoted up the order in the absence of injured Dwayne Bravo, played a pulsating knock that included five fours and four towering sixes.

The Dutch bowlers lacked sting even as the Caribbean batsmen made merry on the very pitch where their batting had crumbled after the 40th over against South Africa Thursday. The pitch was once again good for batting and all the top five West Indies batsmen made the most of the opportunity by hitting fluent knocks. Only Darren Bravo (30) and Sarwan missed out on half centuries.

As the runs came thick and fast, the Dutch fielding also took a beating, marked by dropped catches and sloppy dives.

Smith, who was included as a last minute replacement for Adrian Barath, showed promise, smacking Mudassar Bukhari in the opening over for three fours.

Gayle, who was expected to come good after his meek dismissal against South Africa, took time to settle down and his first five runs consumed 22 balls. He eventually cut lose. Yet, it was not a typical Gayle innings as the former captain chose to bide his time in the middle, curbing his aggressive instincts. It was only in the 23rd over that one got to see a shade of his usual self when he tonked Tom Cooper for two massive sixes over mid-off.

In contrast, Smith played a breezy innings, bringing up his half century in 45 balls with nine fours before he was caught behind while attempting to cut a low delivery off Bernard Loots.

Darren, the star of West Indies’ previous match, looked in an ominous touch as he stroked two sixes, but his innings was cut short when he was caught at long-on by Alexie Kervezee while trying to loft Pieter Seelaar.

Sarwan, who is returning to the side after a year battling form and injury, played a responsible knock, though he was lucky to survive when he was dropped by Bukhari on 13.

But it was Pollard who proved to be devastating for the Dutch. The tall and sturdy all-rounder punished the Orange shirts with his power hitting as the sparse crowd roared with delight. He was the harshest on Bukhari in the 39th over when he thwacked him for three fours and a massive six that went into the stands.

His 50 came in mere 23 balls with four fours and as many sixes.

The Netherlands will now be hoping to repeat their batting display that had England against the wall.

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