Gayle back to opening slot against South Africa

Chris Gayle will return to the top of the batting order as West Indies look to continue their winning run and secure a semifinal berth when they take on South Africa in the ICC World Twenty20 here tomorrow.

The big-hitting left-handed opener was dropped down the order to number six in their previous match against Sri Lanka after he pulled a hamstring while fielding.

The West Indies, though, didn’t require Gayle’s services as they rode on opener Andre Fletcher’s unbeaten 84 to register a seven-wicket victory at the Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore.

It was the West Indies’ second win of the tournament after a Gayle century, which included 11 sixes, inspired them to a six-wicket triumph over England in their opening match.

The former champions are on top of Group 1 on four points and a defeat of South Africa in Nagpur would see them become the second team to qualify for the last four, after New Zealand.

Gayle and Fletcher are expected to open the batting for West Indies with Johnson Charles moving down the order.

“I’ve opened the batting with him on many occasions so I know what sort of a player he is, he is very dangerous and he’s capable of getting big scores as well,” Gayle said of Fletcher.

With just a win from two outings, South Africa desperately need a victory to bolster their prospects of reaching the semifinals.

After the stunning loss to England, who chased down a record 230-run target, South Africa beat minnows Afghanistan to be placed precariously in third spot, two points behind England.

If South Africa fail to beat the Windies then England would be in pole position to qualify from the group going into the last round-robin game.