COLOMBO: West Indies’ surprise hero Johnson Charles said Friday he was indebted to Chris Gayle for easing the pressure during his match-winning knock against England at the World Twenty20.
The little-known opener top-scored with a brisk 84 and added 103 for the first wicket with Gayle to set up his team’s 15-run victory in their opening Group one Super Eights match in Pallekele on Thursday.
Gayle cracked four sixes and six boundaries in his explosive 35-ball 58 as the West Indies posted 179-5 before restricting England to 164-4 despite Eoin Morgan's unbeaten 71 off 36 balls.
“If you’re batting with Chris Gayle you know his ability, you know what he can do. You just have to give him the strike, sit back and watch,” Charles, 23, said in a West Indies Cricket Board statement.
“He's that type of player, he just explodes. He keeps it lively, and that takes the pressure off you. Just as Gayle can hit the ball far, I back myself to be able to hit the ball long and far and score quickly as well.” Charles hammered three sixes and 10 fours in his 56-ball knock, his best in international limited-overs matches.
“Once he (Gayle) got out I had to take the leading role and take it from there,” said Charles, who has so far played just eight one-day and nine Twenty20 internationals.
“There was still some work to do as we were looking for a big total, so I knew I had to keep going and set the platform. I will look to build on this start and look to achieve greater things for the West Indies.” Charles, named man of the match for his brilliant performance, said he was delighted to have contributed to his team’s victory.
“I’m pretty happy. Getting man-of-the-match (award) in this World Twenty20 feels good and what is great about it is the fact that we went on to win the match,” he said.
“This is my first major contribution for the West Indies and I'm delighted that it led to a victory at this stage in the tournament.”
The West Indies will now play Sri Lanka at the same venue on Saturday before taking on New Zealand next Monday. The top two sides will advance to the semi-finals.
Sri Lanka also won their opening Super Eights match, beating New Zealand in the super over in Pallekele on Thursday.