Magical Morgan fails to rescue England
Eoin Morgan's blistering unbeaten 71 proved in vain as England began their World Twenty20 Super Eights campaign with a loss against West Indies.
Chasing 180 after Johnson Charles’ highest professional score took West Indies to 179 for five, the defending champions made the worst possible start, losing Craig Kieswetter and Luke Wright in the opening over.
Yet Morgan played in a manner that belied his colleagues’ early struggles to drag England back into the encounter.
The left-hander, in partnership with Alex Hales, reached his half-century off just 25 balls, which represented England’s best effort in the competition’s history and the joint quickest in this year’s event.
Yet Morgan’s 36-ball masterpiece and Hales’ 51-delivery 68 could not rescue England as West Indies eventually emerged victorious by 15 runs.
Earlier, Charles initially played second fiddle to opening partner Chris Gayle, but went on to play fluently all around the wicket.
The early stages of the Windies’ innings predictably centred around the big-hitting Gayle, who warmed up by striking three fours off a second over in which Jade Dernbach did little wrong.
Treating anything on a length with flagrant disgust, the left-hander targeted Samit Patel, in particular, and struck sixes over midwicket, square-leg and mid-on with seemingly consummate ease.
Steven Finn eventually showed great character to get rid of Gayle for 58, taking a catch falling back at long-on having dropped Charles off the previous Graeme Swann delivery.
Yet Gayle’s exit merely heralded Charles’ fireworks as West Indies’ other opener took a liking to Swann’s off-spin.
Using his feet impressively, the St Lucian played freely over cow corner, striking three maximums in that area to combine with 10 fours during a 56-ball knock.
He eventually departed to Jade Dernbach for 84 - though not before ensuring the Windies gained a slight edge. Skipper Stuart Broad was England’s leading light with the ball, claiming 2-26 in four overs that included a wicket-maiden.
Despite those heroics, his side were still left chasing a difficult total - one which seemed all the more daunting following a disastrous first over - off Ravi Rampaul - in which Kieswetter top-edged a pull to point and Wright edged to slip.
Bairstow saw out the hat-trick ball yet failed to find his touch, eventually departing to an outstanding Kieron Pollard catch attempting to strike Gayle down the ground.
While wickets tumbled, Hales was hitting with freedom through the off side and brought up his half-century soon after Bairstow's departure - from just 36 balls.
Playing with typical flamboyance and showing a variety of strokes that is doubtless the envy of batsmen around the world, Morgan then took centre stage.
While his first boundary, an edge through third man, was unconvincing, the rest were not; Morgan struck the ball cleanly and left the Windies under pressure with his ability to hit all round the wicket.
But his four fours and five sixes would eventually prove inconsequential as England fell narrowly short - though that may not be the case if net run-rate is required later in this phase.
Live Text Commentary
6:42pm - ENG OF MATCH - ENGLAND 163/4; WEST INDIES WIN BY 15 RUNS - Despite Morgan's best efforts, England come up short. The left-hander strikes the first Marlon Samuels delivery for four, yet settles for a dot and a single off the next two. Hales is stumped for 68 off the next, after which Jos Buttler takes a single and Morgan does likewise.
6:35pm - CENTURY PARTNERSHIP - My word! Regardless of what happens, Morgan has played quite some innings here. After Hales hits three off Rampaul's first delivery, the number five strikes sixes over mid-off and mid-on to leave things in the balance. The seamer, however, delivers a crucial dot ball to Hales off the last delivery; England need 23 off the last over, 22 to force a Super Over.
6:29pm - FIFTY! Morgan (25b 5x4 2x6) - Morgan reaches a quite outstanding half-century, which is England's fastest in the history of the tournament and the joint quickest in this one. But Narine delivers an impressive over, which costs just seven, to derail England, who now need 39 off two.
6:24pm - Morgan finds the boundary once more, this time with a four over midwicket in a Gayle over that costs eight. The diminutive left-hander then gets six via a top-edge from the returning Rampaul. He is later denied another through one of the best bits of fielding you are likely to see. With the ball seemingly set to fly over the rope, Andre Russell leaps and parries the ball back in. It is frankly ridiculous! Excellent response from Morgan, who scoop-sweeps for four. Fifteen from the over; England need 46 off 18 deliveries. Can they do it?
6:13pm - If England are to win, you would expect Morgan to play a huge part. He is certainly looking in the mood; after slog-sweeping Gayle’s full toss for a maximum, he launches Narine down the ground for another. Seventy needed from 30 balls.
6:07pm - FIFTY! Hales (36b 5x4 2x6) – Eoin Morgan immediately adds some impetus and looks busy, while Hales is polished at the other end. The former’s first boundary comes via an outside edge, after which his partner strikes four over mid-off and a maximum to midwicket, which takes him to a deserved half-century. England still need just over 13 an over, however. I’m not sure Gayle is aware of that, though, as he continues his colourful display in the field by warning Morgan about backing up by pulling a face at the non-striker’s stumps and waving the ball towards it. Good-spirited fun from the big man.
5:55pm - WICKET! Bairstow c Pollard b Gayle 18; ENG 55/3 - Bairstow's 28-ball vigil comes to an end as the introduction of Gayle does the trick for the Windies; the Yorkshire batsman never really got going, particularly against spin, and departed to an outstanding Pollard catch. With the ball seemingly headed for a straight six, the fielder runs from long-on in an effort that leaves Gayle dancing for joy.
5:51pm - MISSED STUMPING! - Hales continues to prosper by cutting Badree for four, only to enjoy a moment of fortune when Denesh Ramdin misses a fairly easing stumping. The leg-spinner’s spell finishes on 4-0-20-0 - an effort that will doubtless disappoint England. Narine follows up his fellow tweaker's good work with an over that costs just four. The defending champions need to press on the accelerator soon.
5:45pm - And there's the first maximum of the innings. Hales pulls Darren Sammy powerfully over square-leg before Bairstow unfurls the ramp shot to pick up four off the Windies skipper.
5:39pm - Lovely shot from Hales, who moves down the wicket and guides Badree through cover before cutting another boundary through point. The opener then gets four more off Sunil Narine via a fortuitous edge in the third-man region. Good response from England, but there is still a lot of work to do.
5:32pm - West Indies opt to give leg-spinner Samuel Badree the second over, which yields just two runs as Bairstow hits to fielders rather than gaps. The Yorkshire batsman finds England’s first boundary in the next set of six, however, by pulling Rampaul through midwicket for four.
5:24pm - WICKET! Wright c Gayle b Rampaul 0; ENG 0/2 - A poor start has become disastrous. Luke Wright gets in to a tangle against a shorter Rampaul delivery and guides to Chris Gayle at slip. Jonny Bairstow sees out the hat-trick ball, yet cannot stop a double-wicket maiden. And I thought Broad's single-wicket maiden was impressive!
5:21pm - WICKET! Kieswetter c Pollard b Rampaul 0; ENG 0/1 - Well, that is not the start England wanted. Craig Kieswetter attempts a pull and top-edges to point, where Kieron Pollard takes the simplest of chances.
5:20pm - It never ceases to amaze me how little time there is between innings. Ravi Rampaul has marked his run-up; Craig Kieswetter and Alex Hales will begin England's pursuit of 180. Should be a cracking second innings.
West Indies Innings
5:07pm - END OF INNINGS - WEST INDIES 179/5 - If I was an England batsman, I would be worried about Russell, who is enjoying his fair share of luck at the moment - illustrated by an edge through third man for four off Dernbach. Dwayne Bravo then thrashes further boundaries down the ground and over cover as West Indies finish on a commanding total - though one England will feel confident of overhauling.
5:02pm - WICKET! Sammy b Broad 4; WI 158/5 - This has been a quite brilliant performance from Broad, although his figures are hurt off his penultimate delivery. After bowling Darren Sammy with a slower ball, he watches on as Andre Russell edges an attempted pull over fine-leg for four.
4:58pm - WICKET! Charles c Bairstow b Dernbach 84; WI 154/4 - Charles’ tour de force continues. After Finn gets rid of Pollard, the opener hits back-to-back fours and, following Patel’s tidy over, grabs another two off Dernbach with flicks over the leg side. This is now his highest score in any form of professional cricket - and that’s not just international! It ends on 84, however, as Dernbach gets some revenge when Charles toe-ends a low full-toss to Jonny Bairstow at mid-on.
4:58pm - WICKET! Charles c Bairstow b Dernbach 84; WI 154/4 - Charles’ tour de force continues. After Finn gets rid of Pollard, the opener hits back-to-back fours and, following Patel’s tidy over, grabs another two off Dernbach with flicks over the leg side. This is now his highest score in any form of professional cricket - and that’s not just international! It ends on 84, however, as Dernbach gets some revenge when the Charles toe-ends a low full-toss to Jonny Bairstow.
4:47pm - WICKET! Pollard c Wright b Finn 1; WI 128/3 - Another massive breakthrough for England as Pollard fails to fire. While Charles continues his prosperous performance with a huge six off Patel, Pollard skies Finn to Luke Wright at deep cover.
4:41pm - WICKET! Samuels c Morgan b Broad 2; WI 118/2 - Marlon Samuels, admittedly one of my favourite cricketers, has had better days. After being frustrated by a trio dot balls from Broad, the number three cuts to Eoin Morgan at point. Fine over from England's captain, who completes a rare wicket-maiden as Kieron Pollard fails to connect and then leaves.
4:35pm - FIFTY! Charles (36b 6x4 2x6) - The distinctive bustling run-up of Luke Wright greets Charles, who is now looking excellent; I take back my earlier words. After striking very powerfully through cover, he clips a low full toss down the ground for another boundary. The opener then reaches his maiden international half-century in the sprint format with a single, and a fine innings it’s been too. Not as fine as this humble pie, though.
4:29pm - WICKET! Gayle c Finn b Swann 58; WI 103/1 - Take a bow, Steven Finn! After enduring the Swann Stare having shelled Johnson Charles, he takes a considerably more difficult chance to get the prized wicket. Gayle, who had hit the off-spinner over long-off earlier in the over, skies one to long-on, where Finn hangs on stumbling backwards. Huge breakthrough.
4:21pm - FIFTY! Gayle (30b 6x4 3x6) - Surprisingly it comes up with a single, but that is Gayle's half-century. He nonchalantly clips Dernbach down the ground and celebrates with typical cool. Solid over from the seamer, however, as just five come after the previous two had yielded 37.
4:20pm - That is a lot more convincing from Charles. After sweeping a poor Swann delivery to the fine-leg fence, he dances down the track and launches the tweaker over long-on and midwicket for a couple of sixes. West Indies are on the charge now; can England find a response?
4:13pm - Broad brings in Graeme Swann following the six overs of fielding restrictions and the off-spinner immediately finds some turn. Charles has clearly decided to attack spin, though his efforts look as unconvincing as they did versus pace. He does get a boundary via a mis-hit through midwicket, after which Gayle shows how it is done by clubbing Samit Patel over midwicket, square-leg and mid-on for maximums that rise in distance. Incredible hitting.
4:06pm - Excellent over from Finn, who restricts Charles to just three and drags things back a little. Gayle then hits Broad's first ball over midwicket for four in the next, but England's skipper bowls impressively thereafter as their opponents struggle to build on the early fireworks. West Indies 47 without loss after the powerplay.
3:58pm - Finn continues to give Charles problems, yet Gayle continues to prosper. England’s quick bowler finally gets a chance to bowl at the Windies left-hander, who duly delivers a quite brilliant cut over point off a straight delivery. Stuart Broad then brings himself into the attack and almost gets Gayle, whose edged pull flies over third man for another boundary. Charles then finds the fence for the first time; his side are off to a flying start on 37 without loss after four.
3:48pm - That is simply what Chris Gayle does! Jade Dernbach bowls a fairly solid set of six, albeit with one bad delivery, and is duly hit for 14. The West Indies opener clips boundaries through midwicket, over square-leg and down the ground. Ominous early signs for England.
3:40pm - The words "let's play" leave umpire Asad Rauf's mouth and Steven Finn gets things under way for England. The paceman starts impressively as Johnson Charles struggles to get the ball away, with the over yielding six - though only after the opener's attempted pull off the final delivery flies over third man for four.
3:37pm - We've had the national anthems and the players have shook hands. Broad leads the England team-talk and we're almost ready to go.
3:32pm - The wait is nearly over and, in the Sky Sports studio, Ian Ward, Paul Collingwood and Marcus Trescothick are discussing the best way to get Gayle out. My method would probably be to close my eyes and hope for the best - though I imagine England will be a little more tactical. Regardless, that will be the key battle in the early stages of this match.
3:21pm - Here are the teams in full:
England - Craig Kieswetter (wicketkeeper), Alex Hales, Luke Wright, Eoin Morgan, Jonny Bairstow, Jos Buttler, Samit Patel, Stuart Broad (captain), Graeme Swann, Steven Finn, Jade Dernbach.
West Indies - Johnson Charles, Chris Gayle, Marlon Samuels, Dwayne Bravo, Kieron Pollard, Denesh Ramdin (wicketkeeper), Andre Russell, Darren Sammy (captain), Sunil Narine, Ravi Rampaul, Samuel Badree.
3:06pm - WEST INDIES WIN TOSS AND BAT - Sammy calls correctly at the toss and opts to make first use of the surface at Pallekele. England have made one change to the side that lost to India, Samit Patel coming back into the XI for Tim Bresnan. West Indies include Dwayne Bravo and leg-spinner Samuel Badree. The match will get under way at 3:40pm.
2:58pm - And he does not! The Malinga factor proves pivotal in the end, though Tillakaratne Dilshan deserves real credit for a fine catch on the boundary to get rid of Guptill. Over to you, England.
2:57pm - The decisive blow has been struck and Sri Lanka seem certain to win now. Malinga, who had bowled with predictable excellence, has Guptill caught at long-off - it was so close to being a six! - off the penultimate delivery. Malinga has to bowl a no-ball or two wides now for the Kiwis to have any chance.
2:47pm - Malinga will, as expected, bowl for Sri Lanka. The Black Caps, meanwhile, have opted to send out in-form Brendon McCullum and Martin Guptill.
2:43pm - The toss has been delayed. Therefore, I’ll let you know what’s happening in the Super Over; Sri Lanka - who sent out Mahela Jayawardene and Thisara Perera - have just posted 13 for one against Tim Southee. Meanwhile, Lasith Malinga is warming up on the sidelines as he prepares to deliver the host nation’s set of six.
2:22pm - Those in attendance will be hoping the encounter is as exciting as the one currently unfolding at the ground! New Zealand and Sri Lanka are heading for a Super Over after Ross Taylor fortuitously run out Lahiru Thirimanne off the final delivery. Cracking action, though it will likely delay the toss for the defending champions' encounter.
2:10pm - England's players have been quick to brush off Sunday’s heavy defeat to India in the ensuing days and will be desperate to get back on track versus Darren Sammy’s men today. The Windies have yet to win despite reaching this phase, losing against Australia - albeit having hit 191 for eight prior to Duckworth/Lewis intervening - before progressing via a no-result against Ireland, who had posted a solid total - only for rain to fall.
2pm - Hello and welcome to ecb.co.uk's live coverage of England's first World Twenty20 Super Eights game against West Indies.