Australia suffered a fourth straight Twenty20 international cricket series loss after Chris Gayle returned to form for the West Indies in St Lucia. The home team took an unassailable 3-0 lead in the five-match series, winning by six wickets after reaching their target of 142 in 14.5 overs.
Gayle, who became the first player to score 14,000 T20 runs, smashed 67 off 38 balls. It was the 41-year-old’s highest score in 20 T20 internationals since 2016.
Gayle, who had totalled just 41 in his five previous T20 internationals, went scoreless in his first three deliveries from Mitchell Starc. But the left-hander blasted 18 runs off four consecutive Josh Hazlewood deliveries, following a six over long on with three fours.
He took 22 off an over from legspinner Adam Zampa, reaching his half-century with a third successive six before falling to recalled paceman Riley Meredith (3-48 off 3.5).
While Gayle smashed seven sixes, Australia cleared the boundary just twice in another modest batting effort, scoring 141-6 after being dismissed for 140 and 127 in the first two games.
Captain Aaron Finch opted to bat first after losing the first two matches where he asked the West Indies to take first strike. But Australia managed just 11 fours and two sixes in their 141-6 total. They scored just 69 runs off the last 10 overs, three fewer than in the first 10.
They struggled against the dual spin attack of Fabian Allen (1-26 off four) and Hayden Walsh (2-18 off four), and veteran medium pacer Dwayne Bravo (1-17 off three).
A fourth-wicket stand of 59 – Australia’s first half-century partnership of the series – between Moises Henriques (33 off 29 balls) and Ashton Turner (24 not out off 22) added some substance to the innings.
Australia did not capitalise on their opening stand of 41 from the first five overs. Matthew Wade (23 off 16) made a swift start, striking four boundaries from cover drives and pulls off his first 10 balls, before being bowled by Obed McCoy.
Finch (30 off 31) got a start but again struggled for fluency after two single-digit dismissals, hitting just two boundaries. Mitchell Marsh, coming off half centuries in the two previous games, was trapped lbw for nine. Australia lost two wickets in the 12th over bowled by legspinner Walsh, leaving Henriques and Turner to rebuild the innings.
“Myself getting out with back-to back wickets exposing two new players towards the back end there, its been quite similar the whole way through [the series],” Finch said. “Credit to West Indies as well, they bowled beautifully especially at that backend.”
Paceman Mitchell Starc, (1-15 off four) who had gone for 89 off his eight overs across the first two games, bowled significantly better and had Andre Fletcher caught at midwicket off the third ball of the West Indies innings.
That brought Gayle to the crease and he took control of the chase, with captain Nicholas Pooran finishing 32 not out.
“We kept asking for improvements, how we could better our performance and tonight we came out and executed our plans with both bat and ball,” Pooran said.
Recalled paceman Riley Meredith (3-48 off 3.5) dismissed Gayle and was at one stage on a hat-trick.