Gayle blasted a brilliant 215 off just 147 balls to power his country to 372-2 at the Manuka Oval, a total out of their opponents??? reach despite gallant half-centuries from Sean Williams (76) and Craig Ervine (52).
Zimbabwe, set a revised target of 363 runs from 48 overs after a brief rain delay, were bowled out for 289 in 44.3 overs as the West Indies won their third match on the trot after victories over Ireland and Pakistan.
Gayle ??? who survived a close lbw review off his first ball ??? cut loose to reach his double century from only 138 balls.
He was finally dismissed when he was caught off the final ball of the innings from Hamilton Masakadza as he attempted to hit his 17th six, which would have been a new record for a one-day international.
The left-hander also hit 10 fours as he surpassed the previous World Cup best of 188 not out by South Africa’s Gary Kirsten against the United Arab Emirates at Rawalpindi in 1996.
The 35-yaer-old is only the fourth batsman to score a double century in all ODI cricket and the first non-Indian to reach the landmark ??? his score is the third highest ODI score of all-time and he fell short of Rohit Sharma’s record of 264 set against Sri Lanka in November.
Marlon Samuels also made an unbeaten 133 from 156 balls as the pair shared a world-record stand for an ODI international of 372 runs, all this coming after Gayle???s fellow opener Dwayne Smith was dismissed for a duck from the second ball of the innings.
Zimbabwe???s chase was struggling from the off as Regis Chakabva??and Hamilton Masakadza??fell cheaply to Jason Holder (3-48) and Jerome Taylor (3-38) respectively, both trapped lbw.
Brendan Taylor (37) led the recovery, sharing an 80-run partnership with Williams for the fourth wicket in 12.1 overs before appearing to be caught off his forearm while sweeping Samuels.
Williams reached his fifty off 39 balls with six fours, while Ervine took two fewer balls as Zimbabwe kept up with the required run-rate.
But their hopes of an unlikely victory faded when skipper Holder forced Williams to miscue to midwicket before Gayle (2-35) bowled Ervine in his first over before trapping Stuart Matsikenyeri in front.
Gayle remained at the heart of the action as he took a simple catch in the field to remove captain Elton Chigumbura for 21, Nikita Miller wrapping things up by bowling Tendai Chatara (16).
Reflecting on his innings Gayle, who earlier in the week was the subject of a tweet retweeted by WICB president Dave Cameron calling for the opener to be pensioned off, said: ???I???m still struggling with injuries but I have pushed myself to get the preparation right. I???m not getting any younger but overall I???m really happy.
“The team can get some momentum from this going into the match with South Africa.???