GAYLE HITS FIFTH TEST HUNDRED TO STEADY WINDIES
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GROS ISLET, St. Lucia - Chris Gayle hit an undefeated, fifth Test century to spare West Indies some more blushes on the third day of the opening cricket Test against Bangladesh today.
Gayle was unbeaten on 110, as West Indies reached 262 for five, replying to Bangladesh's first innings total of 416, when bad light stopped play 13 overs early.
The West Indies opening batsman accepted the generosity of the Bangladesh fielders to smote 14 boundaries from 246 balls in just over six hours in an innings of composure, character and courage.
He shared half-century partnerships with Ramnaresh Sarwan for the second wicket, Brian Lara for the third wicket, and Dwayne Smith for the fifth wicket. In all, choosing to play the sheet anchor role, rather than the main aggressor.
Left-arm spin bowler Mohammad Rafique was the most successful bowler with two wickets for 81 runs from 30 overs, but the West Indies position could have been even more perilous had Bangladesh held all six catches they floored.
Gayle benefitted on 24, 28 and 47, Sarwan on 32 on his way to 40, Lara on 35 before making 53, and Chanderpaul on four. This sharply contrasted to the excellent ground fielding of the visitors that was simply brilliant at times.
GOOD START FOR BANGLADESH
Things had started brightly for the Bangladeshis when Devon Smith was run out for nought in the second over of the innings. Backing up too far, he failed to beat Faisal Hossain's throw from backward point to the bowler Tareq Aziz.
Gayle and Ramnaresh Sarwan batted with some degree of authority to race West Indies to 68 for one at lunch and completed an 87-run stand.
Twice before lunch, Gayle was missed with Tareq Aziz being the injured party. On 24, Hannan Sarkar at second slip, and on 28, Rajin Saleh at gully, were the perpetrators.
In the third over after the interval, Sarwan pulled a short ball from Tapash Baisya to Saleh at mid-wicket, where he was dropped. But the West Indies vice-captain failed to make the most of his chance.
In Tapash's next over, Sarwan hit the third ball, a short, rising delivery, into the front row of the "Great Western Stand" for six and tried to repeat the shot next ball only to top edge and be caught inside the deep backward square leg boundary.
This brought Lara to the crease. After scratching around early, the West Indies captain started to blossom and played a few rasping strokes, particularly through the offside, before Sarkar dropped him on 35 at gully off Mushfiqur.
Gayle, who Mohammad Ashraful had dropped at mid-wicket on 47 off Tapash, was almost a spectator throughout a partnership of 71 with Lara, but it was clearly evident that there was a certain degree of nonchalance about the West Indies captain's strokes.
LARA PAYS PRICE
He paid the ultimate price when he top-edged a late cut and was caught behind after facing 76 balls in 92 minutes to hit seven fours.
West Indies could have been in an even more precarious position had Javed Omar held a chance when Chanderpaul, on four, had pulled a long hop from Rafique, but the two West Indies left-handers held firm until tea when West Indies were 175 for three.
Chanderpaul was caught behind off Rafique for seven, when he edged playing defensively forward in the fifth over after the break.
By now, Gayle was within sight of his hundred, but Dwayne Smith provided some entertainment with a few crunching leg-side strokes that accounted for most of his five fours in 42 from 69 balls in 79 minutes.
Gayle eventually reached triple figures with a square drive through cover for two, but soon lost Smith when he was caught at wide long on lofting a delivery from Rafique.
Earlier, West Indies took 20 minutes to capture the last Bangladesh wicket of century-maker Rafique.
The left-hander was bowled off the inside edge by fellow southpaw Pedro Collins for 111. He batted nearly four hours, faced 152 balls and smote 11 fours and three sixes, including a crunching pull deep into the "Great Western Stand" off Sarwan.
Pedro Collins led the West Indies' bowling with four wickets for 83 runs from 27.3 overs, Sarwan ended with three for 59 from 23 overs, and Jermaine Lawson took two for 66 from 16 overs.
Play commenced half-hour later than the scheduled 9:35 a.m. (ET) because of a damp outfield. It also scheduled to start at 9:35 a.m. (ET) on the fourth day.
Source: West Indies Cricket