Sat, 28 Jul 2012 11:19:36 GMT | By IANS

Gayle hits 14th Test ton against New Zealand

North Sound: Chris Gayle plundered his 14th Test hundred, celebrating his long-awaited return to Test whites in grand fashion as West Indies continued their dominance over New Zealand before lunch in the first Test here Friday.

Gayle hits 14th Test ton against New Zealand

The talismanic Gayle was undefeated on 146 and his understudy Kieran Powell was unbeaten on 96, four short of his maiden ton, as the Windies reached 245 without loss, replying to the New Zealanders' first innings total of 351, at lunch on the third day, reports CMC.

Gayle, playing a Test for the first time in more than 19 months, reached the milestone, much to the delight of the modest crowd at the Vivian Richards Cricket Ground.

He greeted Chris Martin's first ball of the day, a short, rising delivery, with a pull high over mid-wicket for his second six to reach his hundred from 149 balls.

Gayle removed his helmet and held his arms aloft in triumph for several seconds before waving his bat to the four corners of the ground in celebration.

He further celebrated, when he drove the same bowler on the up to long-off for another boundary two deliveries later.

Gayle had lofted left-arm spinner Daniel Vettori, the former Black Caps captain, for a six over long-off to move to 95 before dispatching Martin to reach his hundred.

He and Powell have now featured in the highest West Indies opening stand since Gayle and Daren Ganga put on 214 against Zimbabwe 11 years ago in Bulawayo.

Powell, a graduate of the Sagicor West Indies High Performance Centre, remained unflappable, inching closer and closer to the landmark.

He showed his class with a few well-executed boundaries after a 20-minute stoppage, when rain offered New Zealand temporary respite about 40 minutes after the start.

Powell struck two boundaries in Martin's 13th over, a sweetly-timed drive past mid-on and a fierce upper cut to third man.

He moved into the 90s, when he scorched the turf with a firm sweep off Vettori through mid-wicket for his 15th four.

But it was not all one-way traffic for West Indies, as the Black Caps' bowlers, Nick Wagner and Vettori in particular, bowled purposeful spells, and just prior to lunch, came close to making the breakthrough.

Gayle, on 142, again had a huge slice of fortune, when wicketkeeper Kruger van Wyk and Ross Taylor both failed to grab a chance, after he edged playing defensively forward to Kane Williamson's part-time off-spin.

Next delivery, Powell too, almost gifted his wicket on 95, when he popped a delivery from the same bowler just over the head of the mid-wicket fielder off the leading edge.

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