Canberra, Feb 24: 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. (Controversy after Gayle record)
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 United Arab Emirates (UAE) 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.
Gayle treated the Zimbabwean bowlers with disdain as he recaptured his best form after scoring just 36 and four in his first two knocks at the quadrennial extravaganza.
22nd ton for Gayle
It was the 35-year-old Gayle's 22nd ton in his 266th ODI for the West Indies. The burly Jamaican, who in the process crossed 9000 runs in this format, was earlier fortunate to have survived a contentious referral for LBW when he was yet to open his account.
And then he was also dismissed off a no ball, much to the Zimbabweans' misery. But before that, Tinashe Panyangara was slammed for 82 runs in nine overs, while Tendai Chatara gave away 74 in 9.4 overs.
Gayle also contributed with the ball, picking up a couple of wickets for 35 runs from his 6 overs. Faced with a daunting task, the Zimbabweans were off to a horrendous start losing opener Regis Chakabva (2) and Hamilton Masakadza (5) cheaply.
Sikandar Raza made 26 while Brendan Taylor scored 37 off 48 balls. But it was Sean Williams who top-scored with a 61-ball 76 while hitting nine boundaries.
Craig Ervine contributed 52 off 41 balls, hitting seven fours and a six, before being bowled by Gayle. Zimbabwe were never in the game and were soon at the receiving end of their second loss in as many games.