By Aaron Kumar
As England and the West Indies prepare to face each other in the third One Day International in Barbados later today, with the series beautifully poised at 1-1, it is worth remembering that the last time these two teams played in Barbados was in the final Super Eight game of the 2007 Word Cup.
That match turned out to be an epic encounter and as the tension builds before the third ODI, we look back at that classic contest.
The West Indies and England both went into their final Super Eight game of the tournament knowing that they could not progress any further in the competition after a run of poor results earlier in the tournament; however both teams were competing for pride and aiming to end their campaign on a winning note.
After a disappointing World Cup campaign at home, the West Indies were desperate to give the crowd something to cheer about in a match that was set to be their captain Brian Lara’s last International outing.
England won the toss and decided to field first, however this looked to be the wrong decision after Chris Gayle and Devon Smith put on 131 for the first wicket. Gayle was in exhilarating form as he smashed 79 from just 58 balls including three sixes. Once the West Indian openers were dismissed the home teams innings started to lose momentum. However when Brian Charles Lara walked out to bat, he got a tremendous crowd, the Bajan crowd were clearly hoping to see the Prince of Trinidad do something special in his last ever International innings.
Hopes for a masterclass from Brian Lara were dashed however as he was run out after a misunderstanding with Marlon Samuels for just 18, a truly anti-climatic way for such a great career to end. To his credit though Samuels was able to shut that incident out of his mind and he went on to post 51 from just 39 balls, as the West Indies reached an imposing total of 300, bowled out one ball before their allotted 50 overs.
At the halfway stage, the West Indies had seemed set for a consolation victory, but England’s skipper Michael Vaughan had other ideas. Vaughan who had never made an ODI century seemed set to finally get that monkey off his back, as he dominated the West Indian bowlers and was putting his team in a fantastic position to turn the game on its head.
A fantastic bit of fielding from Dwayne Bravo however saw the back of Vaughan for 79 from 68 balls, and this started something of a collapse for England as they were reduced to 189 for six. Pietersen did record a century but when he lost his middle pole to Jerome Taylor England were 269 for seven and once against the West Indies appeared to have the initiative. A flurry of boundaries by the innovative England wicket keeper Paul Nixon firmly tilted the balance in England’s favour and with just three runs to win from the last over of the game to be bowled by Bravo, the writing seemed to be on the wall.
Bravo though was still trying his level best to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat and he so nearly did, the Trinidadian all-rounder bowled Nixon to leave England 298 for nine, and then had a huge appeal for LBW against England’s number 11 James Anderson turned down - had that call gone the West Indies way they would have emerged victorious by two runs - as it was Anderson and Stuart Broad scampered a leg bye, and the very next ball Stuart Broad hit Bravo into the offside for two runs to seal a dramatic one wicket victory for the visiting team.
That game was an epic and with two teams that appear so evenly matched there is every chance that todays match could be yet another classic contest: Shiv Chanderpaul and Ramnaresh Sarwan will be looking to continue their sublime form, while England will be happy to welcome back Andrew Flintoff who missed the first two ODIs with a hip injury. This ground will also have happy memories for Ravi Bopara who will be opening for England today. He made his maiden Test century on this very ground exactly four weeks ago today.
© Cricket World 2009