Thu, Sep 13, 2007 - Page 20 News List

South Africa win exciting Twenty20 tournament opener

AFP , JOHANNESBURG

Dancers entertain the crowd during the opening match of the ICC Twenty20 world championships in Johannesburg, South Africa, on Tuesday.

PHOTO: EPA

Hosts South Africa quashed a tough West Indian challenge by eight wickets as the inaugural Twenty20 world championships rocketed to a brilliant start in Johannesburg on Tuesday.

Some 33,000 home fans at the overflowing Wanderers were treated to the thrills and drama associated with the shortest version of the game as both teams put on a dazzling batting display.

Chris Gayle hammered 117 off 57 balls, the first-ever century in Twenty20 cricket, to lift the West Indies to 205-6 after they were sent in to bat by South Africa captain Graeme Smith.

The hosts made light of the daunting target of 10.3 runs an over, as Herschelle Gibbs smashed an unbeaten 90 off 54 balls and Justin Kemp an unbeaten 46 off 23 balls to see South Africa home with 14 deliveries to spare.

The third-wicket pair put on an incredible 120 runs off just 64 balls, with Gibbs lofting Dwayne Bravo for the winning boundary.

Gibbs hit 14 boundaries and two sixes and Kemp pounded five fours and two sixes in an enthralling display of power-hitting that left the West Indians shell-shocked.

Gibbs put on 54 in five overs for the first wicket with Smith and when AB de Villiers was dismissed off the first ball of the ninth over, South Africa already had 88 runs on the board.

The win helped South Africa erase memories of an embarrassing loss against the West Indies in the opening match of the 50-overs-a-side World Cup at Cape Town in 2003.

Before Gibbs and Kemp stole the show, left-handed Gayle appeared to make the match his own with 10 sixes and seven boundaries in his record innings.

Devon Smith contributed 35 in an opening stand of 145 with Gayle, the highest for the first wicket in Twenty20 cricket surpassing the 132 by South African captain Smith and Loots Bosman against Pakistan earlier this year at the same venue.

The West Indies, who were 178-2 at one stage, lost four wickets in the last four overs.

Gayle did not look back after cutting the first ball of the tournament from Shaun Pollock for a boundary, pulling the veteran for a six in his second over.

Mark Gillespie took four wickets yesterday to lead New Zealand to a nine-wicket win over Kenya at the Twenty20 World Cup.

Sent in to bat at the Kingsmead Stadium, Kenya lost four wickets for just one run by the second over, and were eventually bowled out for 73 in 16.5 overs.

Gillespie had the best bowling figures of 4-7 off 2.5 overs, while captain Daniel Vettori, Chris Martin and Shane Bond all took two wickets apiece.

New Zealand cruised to victory, surpassing the target in the eighth over.

Peter Fulton finished the match off with two consecutive sixes to end on 21 not out. Lou Vincent was the sole Kiwi wicket to fall after scoring 27 off 20 balls.

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