COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AFP) — Chris Gayle smashed an unbeaten 75 off 41 balls as the West Indies stormed into the World Twenty20 final with a record 74-run demolition of Australia in Colombo yesterday.
The left-hander pounded six sixes and five fours as the Windies piled up the tournament's highest total of 205-4 after electing to bat on what was regarded as a slow pitch unsuited to aggressive batting.
The Australians found the huge target too hot to handle and folded up for 131 in 16.4 overs at the Premadasa stadium in front of 28,000 awe-struck spectators still reeling from the West Indies innings.
Skipper George Bailey played a lone hand for the Aussies, making 63 off 29 balls with four sixes and six boundaries after adding 68 for the seventh wicket with Pat Cummins.
Darren Sammy's men take on hosts Sri Lanka in tomorrow's final with both sides looking for their first World Twenty20 title.
The biggest Twenty20 win for the West Indies, surpassing their 70-run victory over Ireland in 2010, was celebrated by the entire team performing an energetic version of global hit "Gangnam Style" in the middle.
Gayle, who lost his opening partner Johnson Charles in the third over, plodded for nine balls to make four before swinging Shane Watson for a six over long-off.
That opened the floodgates for an onslaught as Marlon Samuels and Gayle smashed left-arm spinner Xavier Doherty for a six each in one over and Brad Hogg was greeted into the attack with another six from Samuels.
Samuels contributed 26 in a second-wicket stand of 41 with Gayle when he was bowled by Cummins attempting another big hit.
Gayle, who faced just 18 balls in the first 10 overs, still managed to bring up his half-century off 29 deliveries with the help of four sixes and three boundaries.
All-rounder Dwayne Bravo (37) helped Gayle add 83 for the third wicket from just 51 deliveries to propel the innings at a brisk pace.
Kieron Pollard hit 38 off 15 balls as the West Indies plundered 55 runs in the final three overs, including 25 off the last six deliveries by Doherty.
Doherty was the most expensive Australian bowler with 1-48 from three overs, while Watson went for 35 runs in four unsuccessful overs.
Australia never recovered after opener David Warner was bowled by spinner Samuel Badree with the sixth delivery and crashed to 43-6 by the eighth over.
Badree took two of those wickets and seamer Ravi Rampaul chipped in by removing Cameron White and the recalled David Hussey in the space of three balls.
Pollard dismissed Bailey and Cummins off successive deliveries in the 14th over to end Australia's resistance.
Both teams had met in a preliminary league match which was washed out after Australia reached 100-1 in 9.1 overs in pursuit of the West Indies' total of 191-8.
The Aussies were declared winners by 17 runs through the Duckworth-Lewis method.
AUSTRALIA (maximum 20 overs)
J Charles c wkpr Wade b Starc 10
C Gayle not out 75
M Samuels b Cummins 26
DJ Bravo c Bailey b Cummins 37
K Pollard c Warner b Doherty 38
Extras (b6, lb5, w8) 19
TOTAL (4 wkts, 20 overs) 205
Did not bat: A Russell, +D Ramdin, *D Sammy, S Narine, R Rampaul, S Badree
Fall of wickets: 1-16 (Charles, 2.5 overs); 2-57 (Samuels, 7.2); 3-140 (Bravo, 15.5); 4-205 (Pollard, 19.6)
Bowling: Starc 4-0-32-1 (w7); Watson 4-0-35-0; Cummins 4-0-36-2 (w1); Doherty 3-0-48-1; Hogg 3-0-21-0; D Hussey 2-0-22-0
WEST INDIES (target: 206 off 20 overs)
D Warner b Badree 1
S Watson b Badree 7
M Hussey c and b Samuels 18
C White c wkpr Ramdin b Rampaul 5
*G Bailey c Russell b Pollard 63
D Hussey c and b Rampaul 0
+M Wade c Badree b Narine 1
P Cummins c Charles b Pollard 13
M Starc b Rampaul 2
B Hogg st Ramdin b Narine 7
X Doherty not out 9
Extras (lb3, w2) 5
TOTAL (all out, 16.4 overs) 131
Fall of wickets: 1-2 (Warner, 0.6); 2-22 (M Hussey, 3.1); 3-29 (Watson, 4.3); 4-42 (White, 6.1); 5-42 (D Hussey, 6.3); 6-43 (Wade, 7.2); 7-111 (Bailey, 13.2); 8-111 (Cummins, 13.3); 9-121 (Hogg, 15.1)
Bowling: Badree 4-0-27-2; Samuels 3-0-26-1 (w1); Rampaul 3-0-12-2 (w1); Narine 2.5-0-13-2; Russell 1-0-25-0; Sammy 1-0-11-0; Pollard 1-0-6-2
Result: West Indies won by 74 runs
Toss: West Indies
Player-of-the-Match: C Gayle (West Indies)
Umpires: Aleem Dar (Pakistan), K Dharmasena (Sri Lanka)
TV umpire: R Kettleborough (England)
Match referee: R Madugalle (Sri Lanka)
Reserve umpire: Asad Rauf (Pakistan)