England 163-7 (Bopara 38no, Miller 2-28) beat
West Indies 159 (Simmons 70) by 3 wickets
Second One-Day International, Antigua
England managed to hold their nerve to win a low-scoring second One-Day International in Antigua and so head into Wednesday’s decider with their series against the West Indies level at one piece.
After collapsing to 105 for seven in pursuit of West Indies’ modest 159, it took an unbroken eighth-wicket stand from Stuart Broad and Ravi Bopara to see them home in the 45th over. The home side’s spin pair of Sunil Narine and Nikita Miller did much of the damage with combined figures of three for 53 from 20 overs.
To be fair to England, the hosts also struggled against the spin threat posed by the tourists, with the match perhaps not the best advert for limited-overs cricket that it is possible to find as the spinners and slower bowlers dominated the batsmen on another sluggish Caribbean pitch.
Such was the nature of the pitch, that England handed a debut to Stephen Parry in place of Chris Jordan - taking their number of spin bowlers to four - and delivered all but 17 overs of the West Indies innings using their slower bowlers.
Joe Root again opened the bowling and had success by removing Dwayne Smith for five in his second over. He also had Kirk Edwards caught by James Tredwell after Moeen Ali had dismissed Kieran Powell for 16 to peg the hosts back to 30 for three after they had been asked to bat.
Lendl Simmons proved the only batsmen to come to terms with the England spin threat and led a recovery of sorts alongside Darren and Dwayne Bravo. Darren made 13 of a fourth-wicket stand of 51 prior to being bowled by Broad (8-0-25-1), with Dwayne contributing 20 to a fifth-wicket partnership of 52.
The latter was contentiously stumped by Jos Buttler - a decision that was reached only after multiple TV replays as Buttler fumbled the ball - off James Tredwell (2-39) to spark a collapse that led to the West Indies being bowled out for 159 as their last six wickets subsided for the addition of only 26 runs.
Lancashire left-arm spinner Parry (3-32) was the man mainly responsible and enjoyed a fine debut. He had Simmons well caught by Ben Stokes when on 70 for his maiden international wicket and then had first match tormentor Darren Sammy caught by Broad for just three. He would also end Narine’s stay at four when Buttler managed to complete a stumping cleanly.
England then suffered a poor start to their run chase as Ali and Luke Wright departed in successive overs to leave them on 30 for two. First match centurion Michael Lumb and Joe Root added 49 for the third-wicket, but both fell in quick succession as a mid-innings collapse of five for 26 arguably made the hosts favourites to clinch the series with a game to spare.
Narine followed up his dismissal of Wright for a duck by tying the English down to return figures of one for 25, while left-arm spinner Miller removed Lumb (39) and Stokes (4) en route to two for 28. Dwayne Bravo added to an interesting day for Buttler by having him caught behind first ball after ending Root’s innings at 23.
Fortunately, Broad and Bopara - the latter perhaps batting too low at number seven in this line-up - were on hand to guide England to a victory that should never really have been in doubt once they had bowled the West Indies out cheaply. Still, for England at the moment, a win is very welcome no matter how it is achieved.
© Cricket World 2014