Kingston: Stroke-maker Marlon Samuels said on Saturday that his first international century in the Caribbean had been made even more special by the presence of fellow Jamaican Chris Gayle.
The right-handed Samuels stroked an exquisite, unbeaten 101 and shared 129 for the third wicket with Gayle who got 125, as the West Indies beat New Zealand by 55 runs in the second One-Day International at Sabina Park.
"I played exactly the way I wanted to today. Chris set the stage with his awesome power at the top of the innings and then I was able to come in and add the finishing touches," Samuels said.
"It was an enjoyable day for me and the team. It was special to do it with so many people who have done so much for me in my life watching.
"It is my first hundred in the Caribbean, the others have been away. The other have been out of my 'comfort zone'. This one has been in my 'comfort zone'.
"I hadn't batted with Chris for a while, so batting with him today was wonderful and we played well together."
Samuels's innings epitomized grace and elegance as he counted seven fours and a six in an innings that lasted 103 balls.
The century was his third in ODIs but only the first in the last six years, and Samuels said he dedicated the knock to his country which was celebrating 50 years of political independence.
"This is the 50th anniversary of Jamaica Independence so I'd like to say 'happy anniversary to my people, my entire country'," he declared.
Gayle, who has served as a mentor to Samuels over the years, said witnessing the landmark by his long-time friend had been a special moment.
"I felt he played really well and I'm happy for him. He is a quality player and to see him get a hundred after I got one earlier in the innings is something special," Gayle beamed.