Eng­land’s Twenty20 West In­dies con­tin­ues

Sunday Sun - - Cricket -

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-

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