Gros Islet, Saint Lucia: Jonny Bairstow’s blistering early assault set England on the way to a four-wicket victory over the West Indies in the first day/night T20 international of a three-match series at the Darren Sammy Stadium in St Lucia on Tuesday.
Replying to the home team’s total of 161 for eight, Bairstow led the charge at the top of the order with his best T20I score of 68 off 40 balls with two sixes and nine fours. His entertaining innings, which ended in the 12th over via a catch on the boundary by Carlos Brathwaite off spinner Ashley Nurse, should have made the rest of the chase a formality.
Joe Denly (30) and Sam Billings appeared to have finished the job with a 50-run fifth-wicket stand. However both were dismissed with victory in sight, although the target was still easily attained with seven balls to spare.
As well as England batted the West Indies did not aid their cause with a succession of errors in the field throughout their opponents’ innings.
England will defend the early advantage when the series heads to St Kitts for the final two matches of the T20 contest and the tour on Friday and Sunday.
Nicholas Pooran’s pyrotechnic half-century had lifted the West Indies to a respectable total as the hosts suffered early setbacks, including big-hitting opener Chris Gayle, after being put in.
He was one of two wickets to fall to Chris Jordan, the Barbadian-born all-rounder also removing Darren Bravo (28) via a spectacular diving effort off his own bowling to break a 64-run fourth-wicket stand with Pooran.
Tom Curran was England’s top wicket-taker though with four for 36. He dismissed makeshift opener Shai Hope and then Shimron Hetmyer before returning to york the rampant Pooran in the 18th over. Curran also removed captain Jason Holder to the final ball of the innings to finish with his best figures in T20Is.