The West Indies' Chris Gayle in action against England on Friday. Photo: Action Images via Reuters/Peter Cziborra

SOUTHAMPTON – Chris Gayle was dismissed for 36 on Friday as England breathed a sigh of relief after earlier dropping the West Indian dangerman in their World Cup match in Southampton.

England pacemen Chris Woakes and Jofra Archer kept the Caribbean side in check early, restricting them to just eight runs off the first five overs.

Gayle then found his range, smashing Archer for two straight fours but in the next over he sliced down to third man off Woakes, only for a sprawling Mark Wood to put down the chance after seemingly having the ball under control.

He then hit Woakes for a four over long on and a straight six.

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The left-handed Gayle, who has previously indicated this will be his last World Cup, has now overtaken Viv Richards as the leading scorer in one-day internationals between England and the West Indies.

But England ensured they did not pay too heavily for their miss, with Jonny Bairstow making no mistake on the square leg boundary after Gayle did not quite get hold of a Liam Plunkett short delivery.

Gayle made his 36 off 41 balls with five fours and one six.

Two balls later West Indies were in deep trouble at 55-3 when Shai Hope was trapped in front of the wicket by Wood.

The umpire initially did not give Hope out but the decision was overturned on review.

Jason Roy, who scored a century in England's win against Bangladesh, pulled up with an injury in the eighth over and had to leave the field, giving England captain Eoin Morgan an early headache.

He was being assessed for tightness in his left hamstring.

Earlier, Morgan opted to bowl first, hoping to make use of the cloudy conditions.

The tournament hosts were unchanged from the team that beat Bangladesh in their last outing but West Indies made three changes.

Evin Lewis, who was bowled early on by Woakes for two, and Andre Russell returned from injury for the Caribbean side while fast bowler Shannon Gabriel made his first appearance of the World Cup.

Darren Bravo, Ashley Nurse and Kemar Roach missed out.

Chris Gayle walks off after losing his wicket. Photo: Action Images via Reuters/Paul Childs
Chris Gayle walks off after losing his wicket. Photo: Action Images via Reuters/Paul Childs

Three of the previous four matches at the World Cup in England and Wales have been wrecked by rain, with teams forced to share a point apiece.

Organisers will be desperate for the tournament to regain momentum with some big matches coming up, including India v Pakistan at Old Trafford on Sunday.

England have two wins and one defeat while the West Indies have a win, a defeat and a no result so far.

All 10 teams play each other in the round-robin phase to determine the four semi-finalists.

At the time of writing, the West Indies were on 145/4 (30 overs)

Agence France-Presse (AFP)