Cook Ton Clinches Series For England
England 239-2 (Cook 112) beat
West Indies 238-9 by 8 wickets
Second One-Day International, The Oval
England wrapped up their three-match series with a game to spare by trouncing West Indies by eight wickets at The Oval. The visitors were always going to struggle to defend their total of 238 for nine, and so it proved as Alastair Cook and Ian Bell put on 122 for the first wicket.
Cook brought up his fifty from 51 balls, with Bell’s coming shortly afterwards from 60, with the pair only parted when Bell chipped Darren Sammy to Chris Gayle at cover in the 22nd over. Jonathan Trott joined Cook and was there when the England captain reached his fourth One-Day International century from 114 balls. He had slowed before reaching the landmark; mainly due to the huge number of overs that England had left at their disposal; but also because Sammy bowled intelligently, mixing his pace up well on the way to figures of two for 46.
Indeed, it was Sammy who finally accounted for Cook, when on 112 he tried to hit his opposite number out of the ground, only to top edge and find Lendl Simmons at mid-off. Ravi Bopara (19 not out) then joined Trott (43 not out) and the duo saw England home without further alarm with a full five overs to spare.
Cook’s day had begun well, when he won the toss and inserted the West Indies. Lendl Simmons found the going tough and scratched around for 50 balls for his pitiful innings of 12, but it was Chris Gayle who was the first to go. He passed a fitness test and began cautiously before hitting Steven Finn for three boundaries in succession during his third over. Jimmy Anderson was next to suffer – pulled for six during his fifth over – but that was nothing compared to what Tim Bresnan was greeted with upon replacing Finn in the next over.
Gayle launched the burly Yorkshireman for three maximums in his first over, and it was not until the introduction of Graeme Swann that he was dismissed, albeit in controversial circumstances. He was given out leg-before by New Zealand umpire Tony Hill, who surmised – correctly as it turned out – that the ball had struck Gayle on the pad fractionally before it hit the edge of his bat. However, Gayle was unimpressed by this verdict and immediately called for the review, which only confirmed his fate, and he had to drag himself off.
With Gayle gone, England’s bowlers prospered and took three more wickets for the addition of only 16 runs as Stuart Broad struck twice and West Indies slipped to 79 for four. Dwayne Bravo and Kieron Pollard then reined in their natural aggression and rebuilt the visitors’ innings during a fifth-wicket stand of exactly 100, but the latter’s demise for 41, ended their hopes of posting a challenging total. Darren Sammy added 21 from only 20 balls, while Bravo was eighth man out for 77 as they spluttered, rather than smashed, their way to the end of their 50 overs.
Alastair Cook was unsurprisingly named man of the match and paid tribute the way his bowlers responded to the pressure which Chris Gayle all too briefly put them under. He said, “The bowlers set it up well and we came through. Twice we were put under pressure today, but we came back well and those last ten overs made it a pretty comfortable score to get. As a bowler, you've got to keep plugging away against someone like Chris Gayle and hope he makes a mistake. As a team, we look pretty comfortable with four seamers in there. It's nice to score some runs, I haven't hit the ball as well as I'd like this summer, so to get a hundred in a match-winning performance is good."
© Cricket World 2012
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