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Essex hit by Gayle

PUBLISHED: 07:23 30 May 2015 | UPDATED: 07:23 30 May 2015

West Indies Chris Gayle was the Somerset matchwinner against Essex (pic: John Walton/EMPICS)

West Indies Chris Gayle was the Somerset matchwinner against Essex (pic: John Walton/EMPICS)

EMPICS Sport

West Indian leads Somerset to success

Jesse Ryder hits out for the Essex Eagles (pic: Gavin Ellis/TGSPHOTO) Jesse Ryder hits out for the Essex Eagles (pic: Gavin Ellis/TGSPHOTO)

West Indian superstar Chris Gayle lived up to the pre-match hype as he inspired Somerset to a Natwest T20 Blast last-ball win over Essex last night.

Gayle, 35, was making his debut for the west country outfit and clubbed 92 from 59 balls, including six sixes and eight fours to take the visitors to within 13 runs of their target at the ECG.

And after the left-hander fell to Reece Topley in the penultime over, Lewis Gregory scrambled a single off Ravi Bopara’s last ball to seal a three-wicket win and condemn Essex to a fourth defeat in five outings in the competition.

Graham Napier told the club’s official website: “Chris Gayle showed what an outstanding batsman he is and when he is in that sort of form, it’s very difficult to bowl to him.

“He started slowly, but ended up going like a steam train.”

Essex got off to a superb start themselves as Jesse Ryder found his form and scored 54 from just 28 deliveries in a 90-run stand with Tom Westley.

Ryder hit a six and nine fours, while Westley added seven boundaries on his way to 68 from 56 balls.

But captain Ryan ten Doeschate and James Foster were the only other home batsmen to reach double figures as they slipped to 176 all out, losing their last six wickets for 19 in just 18 balls as Alfonso Thomas ended up with 4-37.

Opening with Somerset captain Marcus Trescothick, Gayle took time to settle in reply, scoring just five runs in five overs.

But he then hit successive boundaries off David Masters and a pair of sixes off both Westley and Bopara to reach his half-century off 41 balls.

Gayle hit Napier for another pair of maximums and clubbed Topley out of the ground before eventually falling to the tall left-armer, caught by Bopara on the mid-wicket boundary.

Napier (2-29) and Shaun Tait (2-33) managed to escape the carnage but could not deny Somerset their first win in the competition, lifting them off the bottom of the South table as Essex dropped into the basement.

Gayle told the Essex website: “It was not easy at the start because Essex bowled well. I had to concentrate on playing myself in and adjust to the pace of the pitch.

“Once I had done that, I was able to bat with greater freedom and obviously I’m pleased that we managed to squeeze home.”

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