England skipper Eoin Morgan has said Chris Gayle’s skill level was “quite up”, putting into perspective the onslaught the big-hitting Jamaican unleashed on his bowlers in their opening ICC World T20 fixture in Mumbai.
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Gayle smashed a sensational unbeaten century, studded with 11 towering sixes, to single-handedly take West Indies to a comprehensive six-wicket victory over England on Wednesday night.
“Yes he certainly did what he does. He was outstanding today in conditions probably that favoured the bat a lot more than the ball. We could have been better by the way we executed our skills I think. But when he got in he didn’t give us any chances and took on our bowlers,” Morgan told reporters at the post-match media conference.
Chasing a challenging target of 183, the West Indies romped home in 18.1 overs on the back of Gayle’s bludgeoning innings during which he brought up the fastest century in World T20 off just 47 balls, to better his own 2007 record of completing a ton in 50 balls.
“I don’t think our bowling was outstanding. I certainly think we bowled with little bit of aggression early on, when he (Gayle) did face very little in the power play. But when he did face, the balls were quite attacking. I think he played Adil (Rashid) particularly very well,” he added.
When quizzed about their plans to stop Gayle, Morgan said, “There are number of plans to stop him (Gayle). Obviously we bowled short to him for a while, he countered that. He is a very difficult batsman to bowl to like you have mentioned. He plays a couple of dot balls but also has the ability to take any of our bowlers down, just in one over. Tonight his skill level was quite up.
“Our plans were very good and execution of them was all right. But he is a world class player, he played really well tonight.”
Morgan said that there were times when England had been successful against Gayle.
“Everybody knows how he plays and he has played for a very long time. And that’s just the way he plays. Coming into this game, if he did get himself in, we did expect that. We have played against him before where things worked in our favour but today it was his night,” the left-handed batsman added.
England, who were asked to bat first put on 182/6, and their skipper termed the total competitive but at the same time said the side would have like to post 200 on the board.
“We would have liked to post 200 on the board. At no stage we really got going, guys who got in really could not get away from the West Indies. I thought they showed a little bit of experience with the ball in end overs and little bit smarter against us. I think we would have liked 200, but 180 was competitive,” he said.
England now play South Africa tomorrow and when asked whether it now becomes a must-win game, Morgan said, “We look at all game as a must-win game. Certainly the next one, given that we played tonight on similar conditions. Probably a little bit rest for the bowlers tonight than was against New Zealand, there was a lot of due in there and the ball got wet. Even at the toss I said that I would chase, it can be a great part in the South Africa game.”