Hosts South Africa quashed a tough West Indian challenge by eight wickets as the inaugural Twenty20 world championships rocketed to a brilliant start in Johannesburg on Tuesday.
Some 33,000 home fans at the overflowing Wanderers were treated to the thrills and drama associated with the shortest version of the game as both teams put on a dazzling batting display.
<b1>Chris Gayle hammered 117 off 57 balls, the first-ever century in Twenty20 cricket, to lift the West Indies to 205-6 after they were sent in to bat by South African captain Graeme Smith.
The hosts made light of the daunting target of 10.3 runs an over as Herschelle Gibbs smashed an unbeaten 90 off 54 balls and Justin Kemp an unbeaten 46 off 23 balls to see South Africa home with 14 deliveries to spare.
The third-wicket pair put on an incredible 120 runs off just 64 balls with Gibbs lofting Dwayne Bravo to the straight field for the winning boundary.
Gibbs hit 14 boundaries and two sixes and Kemp pounded five fours and two sixes in an enthralling display of power hitting that left the West Indians shell-shocked.
Gibbs put on 54 in five overs for the first wicket with Smith and when Abraham de Villiers was dismissed off the first ball of the ninth over, South Africa already had 88 runs on the board.
The win helped South Africa erase memories of an embarrassing loss against the West Indies in the opening match of the 50-overs-a-side World Cup at Cape Town in 2003.
Before Gibbs and Kemp stole the show, left-handed Gayle appeared to make the match his own with 10 sixes and seven boundaries in his record innings.
Devon Smith contributed 35 in an opening stand of 145 with Gayle, the highest for the first wicket in Twenty20 cricket surpassing the 132 by South African captain Smith and Loots Bosman against Pakistan earlier this year at the same venue.
The West Indies, who were 178-2 at one stage, lost four wickets in the last four overs to help the South Africans contain precious runs in the end.
Gayle did not look back after cutting the first ball of the tournament from Shaun Pollock for a boundary and then pulled the veteran for a six in his second over.
There was no respite for Makhaya Ntini bowling from the other end as Gayle lofted him for two successive sixes and the West Indies raced to 42-0 in the first four overs.
The left-hander pounded the Morkel brothers, cutting Morne for a six to third man that bounced off Pollock's hands and then smashing Albie out of the stadium at mid-wicket.
When Smith came to bowl off-spin in the 12th over, Gayle charged out to smack him over long-on for his seventh six.
Two more sixes came off successive balls in the next over off Pollock who finished his quota of four overs conceding 52 runs for the wicket of Marlon Samuels.
The 12-nation tournament features the nine nations currently playing Test cricket and Zimbabwe, Scotland and Kenya.
South Africa next play Bangladesh in Cape Town on Saturday. The West Indies take on Bangladesh here on Thursday.