England’s bowlers destroy a West Indies batting line-up that is fearsome on paper. Adil Rashid takes 4-2! The Three Lions make hard work of the chase, but earn a 6 wicket victory in this Super 12s showdown.
In this repeat of the 2016 T20 World Cup final the West Indies played high-risk cricket on a difficult pitch and were bowled out for 55. However, this was a target England had to work reasonably hard to chase down, losing four wickets and taking 8.2 overs. Between them, England spinners Adil Rashid and Moeen Ali bowled 6.2 overs for 19 runs and took six wickets!
The fact that it was awkward for England while chasing will make West Indies question how they approached their batting. They lost 9 of their 10 wickets looking to hit a four or a six, 59 of the 86 balls they faced were dots, and they made no attempt to carefully rebuild after losing early wickets. On flat tracks, this is often the best approach, but will these pitches make West Indies play differently in the other games?
In a tactical move from skipper Eoin Morgan, England opened the bowling with Moeen. Two factors were likely to have inspired the idea: opener Lendl Simmons had just been dismissed against off-spin in the warm-up game and West Indies had four left-handers in their top six. Evin Lewis destroyed a tidy first over by hitting the last ball for a six, but he fell to an exceptional catch by Moeen in the next over, from a well-disguised Chris Woakes slower ball. In Moeen’s next over, Simmons tried to clear the rope, but only found deep midwicket to perfection. Shimron Hetmyer and Chris Gayle then tried to counterattack. Hetmyer, though, found mid-on as he looked to hit a boundary in Moeen’s third over. Tymal Mills then sent Gayle packing with a vicious short ball, making it 31 for 4 at the end of the powerplay.
The fall of early wickets is usually a time when many T20 sides start to look to rebuild, but West Indies just kept coming at England! Maybe this was a response to not being able to score singles, or maybe because they felt singles were not going to get them to a competitive total. Dwayne Bravo was promoted to number 5, but he failed to keep a cut shot down. Nicholas Pooran tried an extravagant drive with an open face and the ball did just enough to take the edge to Joss Buttler behind the stumps. West Indies were 42 for 6 in the ninth.
Rashid was brought on in the 11th over with Andre Russell and Keiron Pollard in the middle. Finally, now, it seemed West Indies were turning down the big shots and taking whatever they could get by batting 20 overs. Russell even attempted a forward-defensive to Rashid, but the England man spun a beautiful googly through the gate to make it 44 for 7. In Rashid’s next over, Pollard was beaten in the flight as he searched for a six, and hit the ball straight to long-on. Obed McCoy attempted a first ball six and was caught in the deep. Ravi Rampaul hung around for a while, but was bowled attempting a slog-sweep in Rashid’s next. The England leg-spinner’s unbelievable figures at the end read: 2.2-0-2-4, which are his career best!
It wasn’t all that easy to bat, even though England were chasing a tiny total. They had the net run-rate in mind, which is why they kept sending in attacking batters, but nobody could score at much better than a run a ball. When they tried to play aggressively, they got out, losing four wickets before they reached the target in 8.2 overs. Buttler played 22 balls for his 24 runs, but it was enough to win this first 2021 T20 World Cup encounter!