Windies edge England in thriller
The West Indies won a pulsating ICC T20 World Cup Super Eight thriller in Group One against England by 15 runs at the Pallekele Stadium on Thursday.
Full Scorecard: England v West Indies
The West Indies won the toss and elected to bat, scoring 179 for five, thanks to magnificent half-centuries by Johnson Charles, who scored 84 off 56 balls, and 58 by Chris Gayle off 35 deliveries.
England had to score 46 runs in their final three overs, and 39 off the final 12 balls to pull off a miraculous win, but only managed 164-4.
The fact that they nearly got there was entirely thanks to Alex Hales, who scored 68 off 51 balls with five fours and two sixes, and Eoin Morgan.
The left-handed Morgan pummelled four fours and five sixes in his undefeated 71 off 36 balls.
A remarkable 107-run partnership for the fourth wicket between these two top-order batsmen off only 58 deliveries gave England a sniff, but they had too much to do after an early double-break by Ravi Rampaul.
Rampaul removed Gary Kieswetter and Luke Wright for ducks in his first over, reducing England to 0-2.
The West Indies introduced four spinners in order to stifle England’s progress.
They had seen the destruction caused by Harbhajan Singh and Piyush Chawla for India against England, and introduced leg-spinner Samuel Badree at Fidel Edwards’s expense.
Gayle captured 1-27 in four overs, while Badree conceded only 20 runs in his four overs.
Gayle had Jonny Bairstow caught on the long-off boundary by Kieron Pollard for 18, reducing England to 55 for three after ten overs.
England required 125 runs in the final ten overs.
Morgan used his impressive stroke-play square of the wicket to muscle a six off Gayle and fours off the off-spinner Marlon Samuels.
He then pulled England closer to an upset by dispatching the mystery spinner Sunil Narine for 14 in his third over, including a beautifully timed six over long-off.
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England still needed 70 runs off the final 30 balls.
Narine, in his final over, the 18th of the game, only conceded seven runs.
That forced England into desperation stakes as 39 runs were needed for a win off 12 balls.
But Morgan hit two more sixes in the penultimate over, giving them a mathematical chance as Samuels was given the final over.
But Samuels kept his nerve under enormous pressure and removed Hale to give the West Indies a breather and a close win.
Rampaul captured 2-37 and Samuels boasted 1-32 in four overs.
Gayle dominated the first-wicket partnership with Charles and looked set for a possible century as he smashed 19 runs in an over from the left-arm spinner Samit Patel.
Gayle and Charles added 103 runs in 11 overs before Gayle miscued a leg-side slog-sweep and holed out to Steven Finn at wide midwicket for 58 off Graeme Swann.
Charles looked rather sluggish at the start as he faced too many dot balls and failed to get the heavy artillery of Gayle on strike, but redeemed himself by pulverizing Swann for 18 runs in an over.
Cameos by Dwayne Bravo and Andre Russell allowed them to score 25 runs off the final two overs as Jade Dernbach suffered.
The final five overs produced 51, which is a more than useful effort on a Rallepele-pitch giving the spinners purchase, but not particularly conducive to swing or seam bowling.
Stuart Broad was the pick of the England attack, finishing with 2-26 off four overs. Finn was almost equally impressive, boasting 1-26 in his allotted four overs.
Patel was manhandled by Gayle and Charles, conceding 38 in four overs. One Gayle drive over wide long-off travelled all of 95 metres.
Swann also suffered, taking 1-32 in three overs.
ENGLAND: C Kieswetter (wk), AD Hales, LJ Wright, EJG Morgan, JM Bairstow, JC Buttler, SR Patel, SCJ Broad (capt), GP Swann, ST Finn, JW Dernbach
WEST INDIES: J Charles, CH Gayle, MN Samuels, DJ Bravo, KA Pollard, D Ramdin (wk), AD Russell, DJG Sammy (capt), SP Narine, R Rampaul, S Badree