It was an anti-climax — to put it mildly — as holders West Indies imploded in the only way they can to hand over England a six-wicket win in their high profile Super-12 clash of ICC T20 World Cup at the Dubai International Stadium on Saturday evening.
Just how ridiculous did this match pan out to be? Well, a total of 22.4 overs were only bowled out of a maximum of 40 — which hardly did any justice to the expectations of 5,000-odd fans who thronged the terraces. While England will be mighty pleased with the start they have got in the so-called ‘Group of Death,’ the Caribbeans need serious introspection if they want to progress further in the tournament.
It looked a good toss to win for England captain Eoin Morgan, who desperately looked to end his drought of runs here. The good record of chasing sides winning here (on eight of last 12 occasions), aided by the dew factor, must have influenced his decision — but then he got more than what he had bargained for in the end.
An aggressive start by opener Evin Lewis, when he picked up Moeen Ali for a six in the first day over the day, seemed a welcome augury. However, mayhem started soon after as Lewis, Lendl Simmons, Shimron Hetmyer and Chris Gayle all fell inside the powerplay to reduce the team to 31 for four — and the match started tilting England’s way.
It has been a common wisdom that on UAE wickets, one has to apply a semblance of conventional 50-overs cricket before giving the charge — but what one saw were cavalier strokeplay at it’s worst. The result: leg spinner Adel Rashid returned with figures of 2.2-0-2-4 as Moeen took 2/17 and seamer Tymal Mills was quite nagging to claim 2/17.
Mills, who was absent from the IPL this year, took the prize wicket of the ‘Universe Boss’ when the latter was done in by the extra bounce to mistime his pull to be caught at the deep. Incidentally, Gayle was the topscorer with 13!
As it often happens with such lightweight chases, England ended up losing four wickets in reaching their target in 8.2 overs. However, they were hardly tested in the lung-opener and come back on a high for the next game.
As for West Indies, it’s better that they try to shrug off the memories this match at the earliest and move on. Roston Chase, who sat out this match, needs to get a look-in the next game as they desperately need someone to shore up the middle order.
If there were any positives for them, it was their young spinner Akeal Hossain. He showed the heart to bowl in powerplay against the likes of a Jason Roy or Jos Buttler and then picked up the big wickets of Jonny Bairstow and Liam Livingstone with two sensational caught-and-bowled efforts.