The third one-day international between West Indies and India felt like a farewell for Chris Gayle, but the star opener suggested after the game that he wasn’t quite done yet.
Gayle played the match at Port of Spain on Tuesday, 14 August, with a special ‘301’ jersey – the shirt number indicating the number of ODIs he has featured in throughout his career, a record for any cricketer from the West Indies.
In the previous match, he had gone past Brian Lara’s record ODI runs for West Indies, but had tallied just a scratchy 15 in the first two matches of the series. On Tuesday too, he began with a maiden over, before going on to entertain the crowd with vintage Gayle striking. He launched into Mohammed Shami with a six in the second over off a free hit and went on to post 114 in 10 overs with Evin Lewis.
Gayle’s contribution was 72 in 41 balls, with 62 of those coming in boundaries. Caught by Virat Kohli off the bowling of Khaleel Ahmed, the Jamaican was applauded by the opposition players as he walked off. He raised his bat, helmet perched on top of it in his now typical style, and the crowd continued to cheer, wondering if it was the last time they’d see him in an ODI.
But, Gayle dismissed suggestions that this was a farewell game. “I didn’t announce any retirement,” he said in a short video posted by Cricket West Indies, insisting that he would be around “until further notice”.
“To my knowledge, he hasn’t retired. But today was an example of his career. The knock he played was outstanding. He got us off to a really good start. He was entertaining, he showed presence, and that’s just what people have come to expect of Chris Gayle over the years,” added Jason Holder, the captain, after the game.
Kohli, unaware of Gayle’s plans, paid tribute to his long-time team-mate at the Indian Premier League. “I would like to congratulate him for a great, great career playing for West Indies. He has done so much for West Indies cricket, and he is an icon all over the world,” the Indian captain said.
“For me, Chris Gayle the person is the best part of him. The cricket everyone knows, [but] I have been fortunate enough to spend a lot of time with him as a friend and get to know him as a person. He is a gem of a human being. I think he can be really proud of that, firstly,” Kohli added.