Dhaka: Spurred on by a blistering century from Chris Gayle, Barisal Burners made a mockery of a target of 166 to power to a ten-wicket win over Sylhet Royals in the Bangladesh Premier League opener at the Shere Bangla National Stadium. Gayle's unbeaten 101 from 44 balls in a thumping opening partnership with Ahmed Shehzad (56 not out off 35 balls)) made what had appeared a testing total into a walk in the park, as Barisal wrapped up the chase with almost six overs in hand.
Gayle launched into the Sylhet bowling from the start of his innings, targeting Rubel Hossain and Sohail Tanvir. No bowler was spared as Gayle sized up the line and length and swung his arms freely. Former New Zealand allrounder Scott Styris was the worst hit, conceding 27 runs in one over. In a 23-run over, Gayle also crashed Somerset allrounder Peter Trego for three sixes, each struck with immense power.The other bowlers to really suffer were Alok Kapali, whose solitary over cost 19, and Noor Hossain who conceded 19 runs in seven deliveries. Gayle hit the winning runs and with it brought up a whirlwind century, studded with seven fours and ten sixes.
Shehzad, who opened for Pakistan in the 2011 World Cup, contributed an attractive innings comprising nine fours and a six.
Having opted to field, Barisal struck early when Pakistan's Kamran Akmal nicked Shane Harwood behind for just 8. Imrul Kayes – Sylhet's strongest local presence with the bat – smacked two sixes in a brisk 21, before Trego and Kapali forged a 105-run partnership in 11.5 overs. Trego (62 off 54 balls) struck the ball well and was particularly impressive with his driving either side of the wicket, while Kapali (56 off 36) appeared eager to off-set the spinners with slogs across the line and down the ground. Former Pakistan allrounder Yasir Arafar separated the pair in the space of two deliveries, and the Sylhet innings ended in something of a whimper.
If the fans wanted fireworks that is precisely what they got from Gayle, who was bought by Barisal's owners for $551,000 at the BPL auction in January. In one innings, he proved his worth.