Melbourne Renegades’ Big Bash League campaign came to an end with the 27-run loss to Adelaide Strikers, but the 25,227 fans at Etihad Stadium won’t soon forget the night Gayle matched the record quickest half-century set by India’s Yuvraj Singh.
In what could be his last Big Bash League innings – the Jamaican left fans wanting more after a breathtaking display of power hitting.
Needing to chase down Adelaide’s target of 171 in 16 overs to qualify for the semi-finals, Gayle set the tone with four straight sixes from Greg West’s opening over.
Ben Laughlin wasn’t spared either, with his no-ball full toss clearing the fence – as did the subsequent free hit.
Brad Hodge’s decision to bring on part-time spinner Travis Head looked ill-advised when Gayle cleared the rope with the first ball of his over for his seventh six and a place alongside Yuvraj in the record books.
“It was unbelievable,” Renegades skipper Cameron White said.
“It was great – it was unreal. You just sit there and watch it go over your head and wait for him to hit the next one.
“He’s done it around the world so it was no surprise. I’ve been on the receiving end playing for Australia against the West Indies and I’ve seen it in the (Indian Premier League) numerous times.
“It wasn’t the right result for us tonight but the fans would have had a good game to watch I would imagine.”
Gayle bludgeoned seven sixes and a four from the first 12 balls he faced in a sequence that went 2, no run, 6, 6, 6, 6, 2, 6, 6, 4, 1, 6 and ended with him on 51 runs.
He was finally dismissed, caught behind by Tim Ludeman off the bowling of Head, for 56 off 17 balls.
It was Gayle’s highest score of a controversial first season with Renegades.
The 36-year-old’s infamous sideline interview with Channel Ten journalist Mel McLaughlin led to calls for him to not be invited back to take part in BBL06 but White is hopeful he will be offered another opportunity with Renegades.
“Yeah, I think so, [but] that decision has got nothing to do with me really – it’s the captain [Aaron Finch], the coach and the list manager,” he said.
Gayle declined a Network Ten request for an interview immediately after his record knock and was unavailable to speak to journalists after the match.
Despite being dismissed for a duck, Head was the pick of the Strikers bowlers with 3-16 off two overs.
Earlier, White won the toss and sent Adelaide in to bat but, led by openers Jono Dean and Tim Ludeman, the visitors were cruising at 0-85 in the 11th over.
However, the Renegades managed to launch a counter-attack – storming back into the contest with 4-22 through the middle overs.
Bravo made the important breakthrough, dismissing Dean for 48 off 35 balls, with Travis Head (0) and Alex Ross (4) falling in quick succession.
Ludeman had played a support role to Dean, who smashed four sixes, but the opener became Xavier Doherty’s second wicket when he was trapped LBW for 49 off 41 balls.
Strikers skipper Brad Hodge, who finished unbeaten on 37 from 21 balls, combined with Jake Lehmann for an important 55-run partnership that tipped the scales back in their side’s favour.
Doherty was the best of the Renegades bowlers with 2-30 from his four overs as Strikers finished their 20 overs at 5-170.
“I felt we had [the win] once Bravo was out first ball or we were well and truly in it, at least,” Strikers coach Jason Gillespie said.
“After three overs we were probably pushing it uphill a bit but … it’s about finding a way.
“We’ve had a number of really challenging situations in this Big Bash and we’ve come through the other side, which has been a massive positive for us.”
The Strikers will host the first semi-final against Thunder on Thursday night, with Melbourne Stars to host their semi-final against Perth Scorchers at the MCG on Friday night.
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