27 Jul 2012

Gayle puts Windies on top

11:36 am on 27 July 2012

Chris Gayle marked his return to test cricket with an imposing unbeaten 85 as he led the West Indies to 145 without loss, chasing New Zealand's 351 all out on the second day of the first test in Antigua.

Gayle's characteristically confident performance, supported by fellow opener Kieran Powell (58 not out), came after the hosts spinner Sunil Narine picked up his first five-wicket haul as the tourists failed to build on a promising start with the bat.

West Indies trail by 206 runs with all their first innings wickets intact but Gayle looks ominously capable of amassing a major total in his first test knock in 19 months.

The left-hander has played predominantly Twenty20 cricket during his exile, caused by a dispute with the West Indies Cricket Board, and he began in the style of the shortest format -- taking Chris Martin for four fours in his first over.

New Zealand will regret failing to take their chances, however, with Daniel Flynn dropping Gayle off Doug Bracewell when the Jamaican was on 36 and the West Indies on 47.

Neil Wagner should also have removed Powell when he edged him through the slips but Martin Guptill failed to react.

New Zealand lost their last 6 wickets for 119 runs with Doug Bracewell making 39.