Canberra: Chris Gayle bludgeoned his way into the history books by becoming the first player to score a double century in the cricket World Cup as the West Indies rode on his record-equalling 16 sixes to notch up a massive 73-run win via D/L method against Zimbabwe, here today.
Gayle, who became the only non-Indian batsman after Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag and Rohit Sharma to score a double ton, smashed 215 off just 147 balls with the help of a staggering 16 sixes and 10 fours to help West Indies amass 373 for two after electing to bat first.
West Indies batsman Chris Gayle celebrates after scoring a double century during their Cricket World Cup Pool B match against Zimbabwe in Canberra, Australia, on Tuesday. Pic/AP/PTI
The destructive batsman was also involved in a record 372-run second-wicket partnership with centurion Marlon Samuels (133) before West Indies bowled out the Africans for 289 in 44.3 overs during their revised chase of 363 in 48 overs post a brief spell of rain.
Former South Africa opener Gary Kirsten held the previous individual record with a score of 188 against the same opponents at the 1996 edition in Rawalpindi, while the legendary retired Indian duo of Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid held the partnership record, which they scripted against New Zealand in 1999.
Gayle thus became the only player in world cricket to hit a triple hundred in Tests, double hundred in ODIs and a hundred in Twenty20 Internationals.
This was Gayle's first century since June 2013, the ton coming off 105 balls after the two-time winners opted to bat at the Manuka Oval. He reached his double ton in 138 balls, hitting Tendai Chatara for a boundary.
While his first hundred was a workmanlike effort, the second was Gayle at his devastating best, getting there off a mere 33 balls.
Such was the onslaught that West Indies smashed the hapless Zimbabwe bowlers for 195 runs in the last 13 overs, 152 of them coming in the final 10.
Gayle fell short of the highest number of sixes by only one, tying it with Rohit and South African captain AB de Villiers.
Gayle was ably supported by Samuels, who scored 133 off 156 balls with the help of 11 fours and three sixes.
Gayle's effort was also the highest ever individual score by a West Indian batsman, bettering Vivian Richards' 189 against England way back in 1984.
The total gave West Indies a perfect platform to post their second win in the tournament and inch closer to a quarterfinal berth, after starting their campaign with a shock defeat against Ireland.
In reply, Zimbabwe batted really well to reach a healthy 289 but to chase the mammoth total was too much to ask from the Africans, whose innings was halted by rain when they were at 18/1 in 2.3 overs.
Zimbabwe too did not start well as they were tottering at 46/3 but significant contributions from the middle-order helped them resurrect their innings and put up a fight as they did against title contenders South Africa in their tournament opener.
Sean Williams (76), Craig Ervine (52) and wicketkeeper-batsman Brendan Taylor (37) took Zimbabwe as they close they could get to the target.
The Windies bowlers did not perform as well as their batsmen but somehow managed to bowl out their opponents with pacer Jerome Taylor and captain Jason Holder picking up three wickets. Man-of-the-Match Gayle, with his slow spin, also picked up a couple of wickets which proved to be the icing on the cake for him.
Brief scores: West Indies 372/2 (Chris Gayle 215, Marlon Samuels 133 not out; Hamilton Masakadza 1/39) beat Zimbabwe 289 in 44.3 overs (Sean Williams 76, Craig Ervine 52, Brendan Taylor 37; Jerome Taylor 3/38, Jason Holder 3/48).