West Indies came in to the match without having won either of their group-stage encounters. Both matches were hit by rain as Australia won the first one by D/L method and the second one against Ireland was abandoned. Nevertheless, the Windies looked a balanced and dangerous side. On the other hand, after having early success against Afghanistan, England’s woes against spin bowling were exposed again as they slipped to a huge 90-run defeat against India. This encounter promised to be a thrilling one.
Darren Sammy won the toss and elected to bat bringing in the leg-spinner Samuel Badree and Dwayne Bravo as England remained unchanged. Johnson Charles started off cautiously with Chris Gayle blasting the English bowlers out of the ground on the other end. West Indies raced away to 47 without a loss by the end of the powerplay. The fireworks were yet to come as both Patel and Swann were beaten to pulp by the openers. England finally got the break-through in the 11th over when Chris Gayle tried to hit Swann to long-on but ended up sending the ball to Steven Finn, who had dropped him on the previous ball. This was Chris Gayle’s second half-century of the tournament; he scored 58 off 35 balls including 4 huge sixes.
Charles had picked up the pace at the other end and continued to baffle the bowlers. He couldn’t find support on the other end though, as Marlon Samuels scored only 2 runs off 8 balls and the big man Pollard was dismissed by Steven Finn for just one run. Charles was next to depart in the 18th over after losing his energy and sending a low full-toss by Dernbach to Bairstow at mid-on. He scored a blistering 84 runs off 56 balls. Sammy was undone by a slower ball from the Skipper Stuart Broad in the next over. West Indies were starting to struggle at 158-5 but Andre Russell and Dwayne Bravo managed to see them through making the most of the last over and leaving England with 180 to chase.
England couldn’t have had a worst start as Ravi Rampaul dismissed Craig Kieswetter and Luke Wright on consecutive balls in the first over before a single run was scored. England didn’t recover from the early losses as they could only manage 29 runs in the powerplay. Badree and Narine then chipped in with three quiet overs and the pressure payed off as an out-of-shape Jonny Bairstow holed out to Chris Gayle in the 10th over after scoring 18 off 29 balls and leaving England stuttering at 55-3.
In came Eoin Morgan to lead the fight-back with Alex Hales, who reached his half-century with a six in the 13th over after facing 36 balls. Morgan followed suit in the 18th over reaching his 50 off just 25 balls. Thanks to a valuable partnership of 107 runs between these two batsmen, England were left needing 23 off the last over. But they couldn’t pull off a chase of Hussey-isk proportions as Hales was stumped by Dinesh Ramdin on the 4th ball of the over. England ended up scoring 164-4 and losing by 15 runs with Eoin Morgan not out at 71 off just 36 balls.
Johnson Charles was declared man of the match. Chris Gayle looked a contender for the award too just for his sportsman spirit and his celebratory Gangnam Style jig. It was good team effort overall by the Windies that won them the match; the highlights were the opening batting partnership and the mind-boggling fielding at death.
Despite performing well himself, Stuart Broad’s poor captaincy cost England the match and they will be under huge pressure as they must win their next two games against Sri Lanka and New Zealand. England need to address their batting problems against spin as Sri Lanka won’t give them any chances. On the other hand West Indies too have a lot of work to do if they are to qualify for the Semi Finals as they too have to face Sri Lanka and New Zealand. In the end, as Nasser Hussain put it, anyone can beat anyone in these Super-8s.
The blog was first published on the defunct KheloPakistan.com.