Chris Gayle’s whirlwind 117 in the first-ever T20 World Cup match against South Africa sits at No.4 in Wisden’s T20 innings of the 2000s, as picked by CricViz analyst Freddie Wilde.
Chris Gayle 117 (57)
South Africa v West Indies, T20 World Cup 2007
Wanderers Stadium, Johannesburg
September 9, 2007
The first T20 international century came in the first T20 World Cup match and it is appropriate that it was Chris Gayle who scored it. Gayle’s elevation to true greatness in the shortest format came in the early years of the next decade but this rampaging century at the Bullring in Johannesburg in the eighth innings of his career was the clearest indication to date of the years of dominance that were to come.
The Bullring – with the combination of high altitude and its flat pitch – is notorious for high-scoring matches and this, the opening game of the 2007 World Cup was no different. Against a South African attack featuring Shaun Pollock, Makhaya Ntini, Morne Morkel and Vernon Philander Gayle showed scant regard for pedigree in longer forms of cricket and tore into the helpless bowlers.
Gayle received almost no support from the rest of his team with the next highest score being 35 off 34 balls. None of his teammates registered a positive batting impact yet thanks to his awesome power-hitting the West Indies posted 205 for 6 from their 20 overs. This ultimately would prove too few for South Africa who, amazingly, knocked the runs off with 14 balls to spare on a belting batting track. But Gayle had announced himself on the T20 stage and there was no looking back.
Freddie Wilde is an analyst at CricViz and author of Wisden Book of the Year for 2020, Cricket 2.0: Inside The T20 Revolution