England alive and kicking
England snatched an 18-run win over West Indies in Chennai in yet another thrilling game involving Andrew Strauss’ side to keep alive their hopes of progressing to the World Cup quarter-finals.
England, who sit third in Group B, must now wait in the reasonable hope that either Bangladesh fail to beat South Africa on Saturday or West Indies cannot see off India on Sunday.
Having shredded their supporters’ nerves in victory over South Africa, tying with India and losing to Ireland and Bangladesh, there was an air of inevitability as this contest went towards the wire.
Chasing 244, the Windies made a blistering start thanks to 43 from 21 balls from Chris Gayle and captain Darren Sammy’s 41 off 29 deliveries. Andre Russell, who fell one short of a half-century, and Ramnaresh Sarwan then put their team on course for victory with a 72-run stand.
However, spinners James Tredwell and Graeme Swann, who took 4-48 and 3-36 respectively, crucially struck to remove both in quick succession and the tail followed meekly with 5.2 overs unused.
England, who themselves enjoyed a swift opening with the bat, were indebted to Jonathan Trott’s 47 in 38 balls and 44 from Luke Wright in reaching a moderate total from 48.4 overs.
Debutant leg-spinner Devendra Bishoo impressed with 3-34 from 10 overs and Russell claimed 4-49 from eight to peg England back at the MA Chidambaram Stadium.
Tredwell and Wright joined Chris Tremlett in making their World Cup debuts as England made three changes with Paul Collingwood, Ajmal Shahzad - who has been ruled out of the competition by a hamstring injury - and James Anderson making way.
Bishoo was preferred to slow left-armer Nikita Miller while West Indies welcomed back Gayle in place of Shivnarine Chanderpaul.
If England failed to reach a score they had threatened at 121 for two in the 22nd over, they at least took confidence from eclipsing the 171 they defended in victory over South Africa at the same ground.
As in that game, Strauss chose to bat first on a dry pitch. He and Matt Prior found early boundaries, including Strauss pulling opposite number Sammy’s second ball for six over midwicket.
Prior was bowled by Russell for a run-a-ball 21 but Trott picked up three fours from the remainder of the over and sped to 26 from nine balls in the bowling powerplay, despite Strauss top-edging a pull off Russell on 31 to a back-pedalling Gayle at midwicket.
Trott and Ian Bell consolidated but struggled to score off Bishoo, whose first reward came when Trott’s leading edge looped to Gayle at midwicket.
Kemar Roach’s second spell began with him uprooting Bell’s off stump for 27 in a wicket maiden, and in the next over Eoin Morgan gloved an attempted reverse-sweep off Bishoo to wicketkeeper Devon Thomas.
Worse followed for England as Russell bowled Ravi Bopara via an inside edge, but Wright and Tredwell repaired the damage with a restorative stand of 41 that ended when Wright hesitated over a single, leaving his partner well short at the striker’s end.
Wright rallied with consecutive fours off Bishoo but gave his wicket away from the spinner’s penultimate delivery, lifting a slog-sweep to Russell at deep midwicket.
Tim Bresnan counter-attacked in the batting powerplay before Swann was bowled by Russell, who controversially feigned injury on several occasions during his run-up.
Roach ended the innings with his second wicket when Tremlett gloved a short ball behind, leaving Bresnan unbeaten on 20.
Despite being hampered by an abdominal strain, Gayle was soon into his stride with 18 from Bresnan’s second over and 20 from Tremlett’s first. However, Tredwell trapped the left-hander in front despite a review.
Sammy laid into Tredwell with a maximum over midwicket but the off-spinner struck that over with Prior stumping Devon Smith following a fumble.
Undeterred, Sammy continued to attack and took his second and third leg-side sixes off Tredwell either side of the spinner deceiving Darren Bravo into edging to Strauss at slip.
Sammy’s unconventional innings was over when he played on to Bopara, who removed Thomas in similar fashion in his next over. By then England had taken the bowling powerplay which cost only 11 runs.
Kieron Pollard hit Swann, who had taken the new ball, over midwicket for six and survived a skied chance on 14 as Bopara could not hold on running back from cover.
Pollard rubbed salt in the wound by lifting Bopara for a straight maximum in the next over, but was trapped in front for 24 by Swann’s flat delivery, with a review once again proving unsuccessful.
Russell continued West Indies’ positive approach, with sixes off Tremlett, Tredwell and Swann - the latter by the narrowest of margins with Trott taking a fine tumbling catch at long-on and just brushing the rope.
With England’s hope fading, Tredwell had Russell lbw and almost snared Sulieman Benn in the same manner next ball but a review was in vain.
The game swung firmly England’s way when Swann had Sarwan held at short-leg by Bell for a patient 31 and, two balls later, Roach swung wildly for Tremlett to take a diving catch at mid-off.
The result was confirmed in the next over when Benn ambitiously came back for a second only to be run out by Trott’s pinpoint throw from fine-leg.