England’s Twenty20 West Indies continues
WEST Indies continued their Twenty20 stranglehold over England as they defied distinctly un-Caribbean conditions to seal a 21-run win in Chester-leStreet.
The Windies may have lost a compelling Test series but their short-form specialists continued a proud record over England, winning 11 of 15 contests, including last year’s unforgettable World T20 final in Kolkata.
Chris Gayle (40) and Evin Lewis (51) – a well-known tormentor and his heir apparent – scored 91 boundary-laden runs between them in just 49 deliveries to set the foundation for a winning score of 176 for nine.
That was lower than it could have been, Liam Plunkett and Adil Rashid sharing six wickets to lead the revival, but it proved beyond the reach of a side who leant too heavily on Alex Hales’ 43.
England eventually needed 26 from the final over, but there was no reprise of the late heroics Carlos Brathwaite summoned at Eden Gardens 16 months ago, when he smashed Ben Stokes for four successive sixes to take the trophy.
It was, fittingly, Brathwaite who closed things out by bowling Plunkett with three balls to spare.
After being asked to bat first, West Indies’ scoreboard never stopped spinning in the six-over powerplay, during which a swaggering Gayle powered his side to 72 without loss.
He arrived at the ground boasting a record 99 sixes in T20 internationals and a short ball from David Willey pro- vided all the prompting he needed to launch his 100th into the stands.
He added three more, one from the very next ball and the last a remarkable blow over extra-cover off Chris Jordan.
Lewis was left a virtual spectator for much of the early assault but waded in during the seventh over, crunching an already chastened Tom Curran for two sixes and a four.
England were in danger of drowning but found salvation in Gayle’s running – as lamentable as his ball-striking is enjoyable.
At almost 38 he prefers striking to sprinting, but even seasoned watchers were baffled by his nonchalant jog as Roy and Plunkett combined to run him out.
Lewis briefly carried the baton, pass- ing Gayle’s score and reaching 50 before the introduction of Plunkett changed things.
The former Durham man persuaded Lewis and Marlon Samuels to make the same error in the same over, both aiming down the ground but picking out Joe Root at the edge of the circle.
The tourists never regained their swagger, losing their next batsmen for 44. Plunkett picked up a deserved third – Kieron Pollard pulling to fine leg – with Rashid sweeping up at the end.
Jason Roy took guard to begin the England reply and with the aim to kickstart his own international summer after being dropped during the Champions Trophy.
He lasted precisely one delivery, guiding Jerome Taylor’s loosener gen-