Scorecard | Action in images | All results | Full coverage
Powered by rookies Johnson Charles and Samuel Badree, the West Indies charged to a 15-run win over England in a Super Eights Group 1 match of the ICC World Twenty20 at Pallekele, here on Thursday.
The 23-year-old Charles struck a 56-ball 84 - his highest score in any form of cricket - and Gayle an explosive fifty as the Caribbeans posted a challenging 179-5 after electing to bat. Ravi Rampaul struck twice in the first over of England's chase to have them reeling on 0-2.
Although England recovered through a dizzying century stand between Alex Hales (68) and Eoin Morgan (71*), the pursuit ended on 164-4 as the assault came too late in the chase. Leg-spinner Badree, playing only his third Twenty20 International, bowled his four overs for just 20 runs, while Gayle conceded 27 in his four, also picking up a wicket.
England fell short as the run-rate rocketed beyond control after they attempted damage control following Rampaul's first-over double strike of opener Craig Kieswetter and Luke Wright. Jonny Bairstow's dismissal to a fine piece of catching athleticism by Kieron Pollard left England floundering on 55-3 in 10 overs. And then began a stunning revival.
Hales and Morgan launched a ferocious counter-attack and lived on their luck to add 107 in just 58 balls to take their team tantalisingly close to the target. Morgan was especially severe, dominating the partnership 70 to 33, and striking five sixes in his 36-ball 71. Some of his attempted hits landed tantalisingly in no man's land, but those he connected sailed well over the boundary. Morgan was also reprieved by Gayle when the batsman had backed too far and was mock-Mankaded by the bowler several times in rapid metronomic succession, much to Gayle's own undisguised delight.
After Bairstow's exit, England needed 125 from 60 balls, but regular hits to the fence kept them in with an outside chance. Hales reached his fifty with a six off Samuels in the 13th over and Morgan gained maximum mileage against the spin of Gayle and Sunil Narine. The English southpaw waded into Rampaul when he returned for his second spell. Thirty-one runs in two overs served to spoil Rampaul's figures as Morgan unleashed three sixes, leaving the requirement to 23 off Samuel's last over of the innings.
Morgan found the boundary on the first ball, then played a dot and ran a single. Hales, who had been relatively more circumspect all this while with a 51-ball 68, realised the cause was lost and advanced out of his crease and was stumped off a widish delivery. England ultimately paid the price for losing two wickets without scoring in the first over, and then consuming deliveries trying to make amends. Their inability to get going against spin resurfaced.
Windies bat first
Earlier, Gayle and Charles ealier ran up an express opening partnership of 103 in 11 overs to get the West Indies to a testing 179 for five after Darren Sammy elected to bat. The openers scored contrasting half-centuries. Gayle was quick on the go but was frustrated at first as Charles kept him away from the strike.
Gayle got going against Jade Dernbach, pulling and driving him for boundaries. The pace of Steve Finn and Stuart Broad was met with authoritative cuts and a flick - all for for boundaries. The Windies reached 47-0 after six overs, but it was when Samit Patel - in the side for Tim Bresnan - came on in the eighth over that all hell broke loose.
Gayle crashed three sixes over the legside. The pitch that was being played on was the same that was used for the first game of the day - the Sri Lanka and New Zealand Super Over thriller - and the ball had been taking turn for Graeme Swann. But when Swann came on immediately after Patel's massacre, he received the same treatment. This time it was Charles who followed up a four with two huge sixes over long-on as the Windies jagged up their scoring rate.
Gayle reached his half-century in 29 balls and soon after Finn dropped Charles on 39 off Swann. Finn redeemed himself on the next ball by holding Gayle's mistimed shot at long-on. Charles took over after Gayle's dismissal. gaining fours off Luke Wright to reach his fifty in 36 balls. The West Indies lost Marlon Samules cheaply to Broad, but Charles continued to score freely, clouting Patel for another six and hitting fours off Finn and Dernbach.
Visibly tired the 23-year-old played a weary shot to be caught at mid-on when a century was in sight. The 84 was his highest score in any form of professional cricket. England slowed things down after this, but Dernbach leaked 15 in the final over as the Windies ended with a more than competitive score.