England come up short
England’s search for a first competitive victory of the winter goes on after they were comprehensively beaten by West Indies in the Twenty20 international in Trinidad.
The tourists lost the recent Test series 1-0, having returned from the pre-Christmas tour of India without a win, and were hoping to break their duck in the first match of the limited-overs leg of the Caribbean trip.
But they were bowled out for just 121 en route to a six-wicket defeat at the Queen’s Park Oval, as West Indies cantered home with two overs to spare.
As well as Ramnaresh Sarwan played in making 59 off 46 balls on a sluggish pitch to anchor the hosts’ pursuit, the result was hardly in doubt after England failed to bat out their overs.
Steven Davies hit 27 off 21 deliveries on his international debut and captain Andrew Strauss 22, but no other player passed 14 as three run-outs undermined a fractured innings.
The last nine wickets tumbled for 66 in 12 overs, and the longest partnership spanned just 24 balls.
Left-arm spinner Sulieman Benn underlined his potency in the shorter form of the game with 3-24, while medium-pacer Darren Sammy conceded just 14 runs from four overs.
No England bowler enjoyed anything like the same success, and Lendl Simmons made an unflustered, unbeaten 23 to complement Sarwan’s more entertaining contribition and carry West Indies home.
The ease with which they scored contrasted sharply with the trouble experienced by the majority of the England players after they were put in to bat.
Davies provided the early momentum with a couple of sweetly-timed boundaries through cover, but he lost Ravi Bopara in the fourth over, bowled making room to Lionel Baker.
Davies pulled Dwayne Bravo dismissively over wide mid-on before he was bowled via his pads as he stepped across to the off side to reveal all three stumps.
The introduction of Benn into the attack ensured Kevin Pietersen never got going, although the bowler was fortunate to win an lbw verdict with a delivery which appeared to be sliding down the leg side.
Owais Shah also struggled as West Indies stemmed the early flow of boundaries, and his dismissal - caught at long-on off Benn - was followed by that of Paul Collingwood, whose cross-batted swipe off Sammy found only Simmons at deep midwicket.
England’s failure to accelerate the scoring was exemplified by Kieron Pollard’s first over, which cost just one run, and they lost one of their most destructive hitters when Dimitri Mascarenhas was run out following a mix-up with Strauss.
Mascarenhas, who hit 84 off 55 balls in the warm-up victory yesterday, failed to score today, left well short of his ground as Sarwan, at point, punished a crucial hesitation mid-pitch.
Strauss, making his first Twenty20 international appearance since 2006, showed some invention in flicking Pollard over short fine-leg twice in an over before he too was run out courtesy of a superb pick-up from Shivnarine Chanderpaul at midwicket and equally impressive work from Sammy, who collected the throw on the half-volley at the non-striker’s end.
Sarwan’s direct hit from extra cover spelled the end for Gareth Batty - also recalled to the one-day side after a three-year absence - Benn clipped Amjad Khan’s off stump and Stuart Broad slapped Fidel Edwards to cover to bring the England innings to a miserable conclusion.
Though Broad struck with his second ball to remove the dangerous Andre Fletcher, who holed out at deep square-leg, English hopes of keeping West Indies in check ebbed away as Khan’s first over cost 13.
Sarwan drove James Anderson back over his head for the first six of the match before Chanderpaul miscued a drive off the same bowler, but by that time the required rate was comfortably under six an over.
Batty also felt the full force of Sarwan’s bat when he was swept into the midwicket stand, and the West Indies lynchpin in the Test series made the most of being dropped on 38 by Khan to go to a 40-ball half-century.
The unsightly heave at Khan that brought about his downfall was hardly in keeping with an innings high on aesthetic quality, yet it said much for West Indies’ dominance that his departure - and Bravo’s moments later - barely mattered.