Gayle finds form in losing effort

Chris Gayle came good today with a half-century.

MELBOURNE – West Indies opener Chris Gayle finally came good for the Sydney Thunder in the KFC Big Bash today, but they still lost.

The powerful left-hander smashed a 43-ball 65 as his team went after the Melbourne Stars total of 145 for 8.† But the Thunder fell short by 13 runs as they lost their last eight wickets for 41 runs in 45 balls and capitulated to 132 all out after Gayle was dismissed.

It was the end of a winless season for the Thunder.

The Thunder needed 18 runs off the last over with tailenders Gurinder Sandhu and Luke Doran at the crease, but both were dismissed by James Faulkner, who finished with 3-24.

Gayle was named man of the match after setting a new record for the current BBL season by reaching his 50 off 25 balls.

Brad Hodge (39) and David Hussey (32) added 58 for the third wicket for the Stars but their dismissals in consecutive overs hurt the home side’s hopes of a bigger total. In the end it proved enough.

Nineteen-year-old paceman Sandhu (2-33) and off-spinner spinner Gayle (2-5) claimed two wickets each for the Thunder.

Prior to today’s half-century Gayle had scored only 72 runs at an average of 12.00 earlier in the tournament but finally found form as he bludgeoned four sixes and six fours.

Matt Prior contributed only seven in a 43-run stand for the second wicket with Gayle before Prior was caught by a diving Jackson Bird at deep mid-wicket at 62 for 2.

The Thunder were cruising at 91 for 2 but stumbled as they quickly lost Gayle, Usman Khawaja (23), Sean Abbott (three) and Ryan Carters (two). Mark Cosgrove (eight) and Adam Zampa (eight) continued the procession of wickets.

England international Dimitri Mascarenhas took 2 for 27 on debut for the Stars, replacing Sri Lanka’s Lasith Malinga who has been called up for national duty in the one-day series against Australia.

“The key part of the game was when I was batting and got out against Mascarenhas. From there it just faltered,” Gayle said.

Khawaja described the Thunder’s season as hugely disappointing.

Gayle now returns to the Caribbean but will miss the ongoing Caribbean Twenty20 unless one of the chosen Jamaican party comes down with an injury and a replacement is needed.††

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