HAKA, Bangladesh, CMC – Superstar opener Chris Gayle chose the ideal opportunity to lash his 19th Twenty20 hundred as he fired Rangpur Riders to a comprehensive eight-wicket victory over Khula Titans, and one step closer to the final of the Bangladesh Premier League final yesterday.
Playing in the first eliminator of the knockout round, the 38-year-old left-hander smashed an astonishing unbeaten 126 off a mere 51 deliveries as Riders, chasing 168 at the Shere Bangla National Stadium, romped to their target in the 16th over.
The hundred was the highest-ever score in the BPL, the first of the season and Gayle’s fourth in the competition overall.
With the victory, Riders dumped Titans, comprising West Indies T20 captain Carlos Brathwaite, teammate Nicholas Pooran and Barbadian all-rounder Jofra Archer, out of the competition.
Riders were slipping at 25 for two in the third over after seamer Archer knocked over opener Sohag Gazi for one and New Zealander Brendon McCullum without scoring.
However, Gayle then took over, lashing 14 sixes and six fours as he put on 146 in a rollicking unbroken, third wicket stand with Mohammed Mithun who ended on 30 from 36 deliveries.
Gayle belted 20 runs off the fifth over of the innings bowled by Archer as he raced to his half-century off 23 balls, bringing up the landmark in style by clearing the ropes at long-off with seamer Abu Jayed.
Gayle also ripped into Brathwaite, taking 17 from the seamer’s second over – the 11th of the innings – en route to three figures off just 45 balls.
He proceeded to finish the game in style, smashing off-spinner Nazmul Hossain for a pair of sixes off the first two balls of the 16th over.
Earlier, Titans gathered 167 for six off their 20 overs, with Pooran getting 28 and Brathwaite, 25 not out.
The pair put on 33 off 16 balls for the sixth wicket.
In the other eliminator, Evin Lewis and Kieron Pollard played crucial innings to help propel Dhaka Dynamites to a crushing 95-run win over Comilla Victorians and a place in the final.
Opting for first knock, Dynamites rallied to 191 for seven off 20 overs, with opener Lewis top-scoring with 47 off 32 deliveries and Pollard stroking 31 from 18 balls.
The left-handed Lewis counted half-dozen fours and three sixes as he added 69 for the second wicket with England’s Joe Denly who made 32.
Pollard, batting at number four, blasted a four and three sixes in putting on a further 43 with Denly.
Medium pacer Dwayne Bravo was the best bowler with two for 45.
In reply, Samuels fell cheaply for six and Bravo without scoring, as Victorians slumped to 96 all out off 18 overs, with the brilliant West Indies off-spinner Sunil Narine producing a tight three-over spell that cost just nine runs and yielded one wicket.
Victorians will have a second chance at a place in the final when they take on Riders tomorrow.