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Gayle’s 67 helps Windies win over Australia

Australia needed a win to have any chance of staying in contention in the series, but didn’t post enough runs.

AP | GROS ISLET, St Lucia |

Chris Gayle belted 67 from 38 balls to guide the West Indies to a six-wicket, series-clinching win over Australia in Monday’s Twenty20 cricket international.

The West Indies finished 142-4, chasing down Australia’s total 141-6 with 31 balls to spare in the third of five T20s. Stand-in captain Nicholas Pooran hit the winning runs to remain unbeaten on 32.

But game three in St. Lucia was all about former captain Gayle, who passed 14,000 runs in the T20 format and returned to form after struggling for runs since his return to the West Indies lineup.

The 41-year-old left-hander slogged seven sixes and four boundaries as he posted his first Twenty20 International half century since an unbeaten 100 against England in March 2016.

Australian fast bowler Mitchell Starc (1-15) took a wicket in the first over of the West Indies innings before Gayle went on the attack in the next over of the reply, plundering Josh Hazlewood for a six and three consecutive boundaries.

He hit three straight sixes against spinner Adam Zampa to reach his 50 in the 11th over, raising his “Six Machine” bat to show “The Boss” sticker on the blade.

He was out in the next over when he swiped at a slower bouncer from Riley Meredith (3-48) and got a thick edge to wicketkeeper Alex Carey to make the total 109-3.

Accepting the award for player of the match, Gayle recommended fans shouldn’t watch the statistics too closely but instead “just respect the Universe Boss.”

“You all knew I was struggling with the bat,” he said. “To be able to get some runs today was very pleasing.”

Gayle said his main focus was on the T20 World Cup starting in October in the United Arab Emirates, when he’ll be 42.

Pooran, who is deputizng for the injured Kieron Pollard, is now 3-0 in his first three games as West Indies captain.

“Top game. We kept asking for improvement and tonight we came out and executed our plans with bat and ball,” Pooran said. “There’s a reason why Chris Gayle has 14,000 T20 runs, the greatest T20 batsman to play the game.”

The West Indies won the first game of the series by 18 runs after a stunning batting collapse from the Australians, and took the second game by 56 runs.

Australia needed a win to have any chance of staying in contention in the series, but didn’t post enough runs.

Openers Aaron Finch (30 off 31) and Matthew Wade (23 off 16) and middle-order batsmen Moises Henriques (33) and Ashton Turner (24) made starts but didn’t go on to post big scores.

“We just haven’t had the top order go on deep in the innings,” Finch said. “It’s been quite similar the whole way through. Credit to West Indies. They bowled beautifully especially at that back end. They’re an experienced side and they showed it tonight.”

Wrist spinner Hayden Walsh Jr., who played eight T20 internationals for the United States before getting picked for the West Indies in 2019, took two wickets in his second over with the kind of bowling which restricted Australia’s run-rate.

He returned 2-18 from four overs to lead the attack, while Obed McCoy, Dwayne Brave and Fabian Allen all took a wicket apiece.

The fourth game in the series will be played Wednesday.