Cricket: Gayle answers with bat

West Indies master blaster Chris Gayle has always marched to the beat of a different drum but warming up for his slashing onslaught on Australia yesterday with a small scandal involving a "party", three British women and a hotel security breach was unusual, even for him.

An imperious Gayle hit six sixes and five boundaries in an unbeaten 75 as the West Indies crushed Australia by 74 runs to secure a place in the World Twenty20 final against Sri Lanka tonight.

Gayle helped the West Indies to a formidable 205-4 in their 20 overs. Australia then collapsed to 43-6 before recovering to score 131 all out with 20 balls to spare.

In today's high performance international sport, alcohol, parties and women are demonstrably not part of the prescribed preparation for a big match. That didn't seem to deter Gayle as he and some team-mates produced a small security scare this week.

Three British women were arrested after police broke up a hotel room party involving four West Indies cricketers including Gayle on Thursday, police and hotel sources said.

The women were arrested and later released without charge after police bodyguards protecting players at the World T20 handed them over at a nearby police station for further investigations.

Hotel sources said the women were guests of Gayle and team-mates Andre Russell, Fidel Edwards and Dwayne Smith. The sources insisted there was no breach of security at the tightly-guarded seventh floor reserved for players and team officials.

"There was no wrongdoing on the part of the players or the women and we are surprised at the police action," a hotel source, who declined to be named, told journalists. "It is not against the law to be a guest of a player."

However, cricket authorities have been jumpy about hotel security at tournaments since the then coach of Pakistan, Bob Woolmer, was found dead in his room during the World Cup in Jamaica in 2007 in what were first thought to be suspicious circumstances.

West Indies media manager Philip Spooner said the matter had been dealt with.

"It is being reported as a Chris Gayle issue," said Spooner. "It is not a Chris Gayle issue. The matter was dealt with by the police and it is now closed. Our focus is strictly on cricket."

While the focus might not have been entirely on cricket, it didn't do Gayle any harm. Player-of-the-match Gayle faced 41 deliveries and shared 83 runs with Dwayne Bravo (37) for the third wicket. He also put on 65 off 25 balls with Kieron Pollard.

Pollard's 38 off 15 balls helped West Indies become the first team at this tournament to pass the 200-run mark. The previous best score was 196-5 by England against Afghanistan.

Australia were clearly rattled, lost wickets early and it was only a spirited 63 off 29 deliveries by captain George Bailey who shared 68 runs with No8 batsman Pat Cummins (13), that hauled Australia back from a low score. Bailey hit four sixes for his maiden Twenty20 international half-century.

However, seam bowler Pollard dismissed both men in consecutive deliveries to end any chance of an Australian win. Agencies

- Herald on Sunday

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