ICC World Twenty20, Group C, The Oval
West Indies 172-3 (15.5 overs) beat Australia 169-7 (20 overs) by seven wickets
Watch Gayle's six sixes against Australia
Chris Gayle smashed 88 off 50 balls as West Indies claimed a stunning win over Australia in the ICC World Twenty20.
He hit six sixes and four fours and Andre Fletcher made 53 off 32 balls to put their side, who were chasing 170 to win, in total control at The Oval.
Ramnaresh Sarwan then hit the winning runs as West Indies reached 172-3 and claimed a seven-wicket triumph.
Australia had earlier been restricted to 169-7 with Jerome Taylor taking two wickets in the opening over.
"It was very satisfying. Andre Fletcher took the pressure off me and allowed me to pace my innings. I wanted to put a smile back on the West Indies' fans faces, but this is only the first game and we still have a long way to go," Gayle said afterwards.
TV technology measured one of Gayle's blows at 105 metres and he added: "It's the first time I have hit it so far but if the ball is in the slot in Twenty20, these things happen and you will have guys who hit it further than me as well - maybe Shahid Afridi or Virender Sehwag.
"Once I can clear the boundary I am satisfied with that, it doesn't matter how far it goes."
West Indies are now in pole position to qualify from Group C, while Australia will be eliminated if they lose to Sri Lanka at Trent Bridge on Monday.
Gayle's side have now beaten Australia twice in the Twenty20 format and will fancy their chances of going far in this tournament, provided they improve their fielding.
Backed by a large and highly vocal section of The Oval crowd, Gayle's men emerged from the pavilion with a spring in their step and, despite losing the toss, they made a fine start.
Just one run was on the board, courtesy of a wide, when Jerome Taylor teased Shane Watson into driving a full-pitched delivery straight to Sarwan at mid-off.
And things went from bad to worse for Australia as Ricky Ponting, facing his first legitimate delivery following two more wides, was trapped plumb in front of his stumps.
At 3-2 after one over and with David Warner (63) and Michael Clarke yet to score against a buzzing West Indies side, Australia were staring at the prospect of an embarrassingly low score.
That seemed very possible when Clarke attempted to loft Fidel Edwards over the off-side field but ended up cutting him straight to Sulieman Benn at third man.
But Warner and Brad Haddin steadied the innings with a mix of intelligent strokemaking and ruthless abandonment.
Warner pulled Edwards for a stunning six over mid-wicket and Haddin weighed in with a couple of eye-catching shots, but the latter soon holed out to Benn as he looked to smash Kieron Pollard out of the ground.
Warner soldiered on and passed 50 with a single and new batsman David Hussey was quickly into his stride, despatching Pollard over long-off and Benn through mid-wicket for maximums, but lost Warner when he sliced a Dwayne Bravo full toss to Benn in the covers.
That left Australia at 113-5 after 15.3 overs and in need of a run-surge to give themselves a competitive total to defend.
Hussey tried to oblige but, moments after being dropped by Shivnarine Chanderpaul at long-on, he hoisted Bravo to a forward-diving Fletcher at mid-wicket.
Australia, 153-6 going into the final over, lost Mitchell Johnson cheaply yet ended on a high as Mike Hussey clubbed an Edwards no-ball for six and then saw an outside edge race past short fine-leg for a bonus four.
Ricky Ponting can hardly bear to look as the Windies batsmen make hay
But the momentum quickly shifted back to West Indies who, despite requiring a little over nine runs per over, set about their chase in spectacular fashion.
Gayle, who marked the first match of the inaugural World Twenty20 in 2007 with a hundred, carved two of Brett Lee's first three deliveries for four while Fletcher hit a four and a six off Mitchell Johnson's opening two balls.
Fletcher, playing in only his third Twenty20 international, should have been dismissed when he skied Johnson high into the air but Mike Hussey failed to get a hand on the ball as he fell backwards at mid-on.
The openers might have been expected to adopt a more cautious approach after that reprieve but Gayle had other ideas and opted launched a breathtaking assault on Lee in an unforgettable fifth over.
The 29-year-old left-hander hit three sixes, one of them flying out of the ground, and two fours to take his side from 44-0 to 71-0.
The Oval was rocking to the beat of West Indian celebrations but the whole ground stood to applaud Gayle's 23-ball half-century, secured with a tidy single to log-off.
Fletcher passed 50 off 31 balls by heaving David Hussey over wide mid-on for four but his superb knock came to an end a ball later when he miscued pull shot straight back to the bowler.
Another steepling six followed before Gayle lofted a catch off Lee to Watson and Xavier Marshall chipped Johnson to James Hopes at mid-off.
There was, however, no chance of an Australian fightback and Sarwan, partnered by Chanderpaul, led his side home with an edged boundary.
"They outplayed us today for sure. If a couple of their batsmen keep playing that way, they can beat anybody," said Australia skipper Ponting.
"We spoke about getting the first over of each innings right and as it turned out we lost two wickets in our first batting innings and they took a lot off our first bowling over as well.
"With the game being as short as it is, you can't afford to give momentum like that away in either innings and we did it in both."
Highlights - West Indies trounce Australia with four overs to spare