England romp to resounding win
Ravi Bopara returned outstanding figures of 4-10 – England’s best in Twenty20 cricket – and openers Alex Hales and Craig Kieswetter shared their side’s highest partnership in the shortest format as West Indies were subjected to a 10-wicket thrashing in the first of two NatWest International T20s at the Kia Oval.
Bopara was chiefly responsible for restricting the Windies to 125 all out after openers Dwayne Smith and Johnson Charles had set a solid platform with an opening stand of 51 inside six overs.
The Essex all-rounder picked up two scalps in as many balls in his second over and wickets once again fell from successive deliveries, the first courtesy of a run-out, in his next set of six as the tourists crumbled. Their last eight wickets fell for the addition of only 28 runs.
Bopara’s final analysis comfortably eclipsed the 4-22 previously achieved by both Paul Collingwood and Jade Dernbach in T20 internationals and England, who had inserted their opponents in Graeme Swann's first match in charge, had no problems in chasing down a modest target with 28 balls unused.
Hales, who was last night voted as the NatWest PCA young player of the year, prospered to the tune of 62 from 48 deliveries in only his second international appearance, while Kieswetter contributed 58 from 49 balls.
The duo’s unbroken alliance of 128 represented a new record for England in this form of the game – surpassing a stand of 112 between Kevin Pietersen and Eoin Morgan against Pakistan last February.
In truth, those in attendance at the Oval this evening are unlikely to witness a more one-sided fixture and Darren Sammy’s side face a stiff test to restore their pride when they return to this venue to face a vibrant and confident England outfit in two days’ time.
After Swann, leading England in the absence of Stuart Broad, had called correctly and chosen to bowl, a mere five runs came from the opening two overs, but it wasn’t long before Smith and Charles, who hit 33 and 36 respectively, settled into their stride.
The former collected four boundaries, including pulled sixes over long-on and square-leg, in Tim Bresnan’s second over, which yielded 22 runs.
Charles, adopting a somewhat agricultural approach, then picked up three fours down the ground in the space of four balls from Steven Finn, one of three Twenty20 debutants for England along with Jonathan Bairstow and Ben Stokes.
Smith was fortunate to survive a tricky caught-and-bowled chance in Dernbach’s first over, but then fell to a wonderful delivery from Samit Patel that turned sharply to take off stump.
With Patel, who finished with 2-23, and Swann each exploiting a surface offering notable assistance to the spinners, West Indies struggled to maintain their momentum and a frustrated Marlon Samuels was bowled through the gate by England’s skipper as he looked to drive expansively.
Swann’s figures took a significant dent in his final over as Danza Hyatt, the only other West Indian to reach double figures, drove back over the bowler’s head for six before picking up another maximum with a slog-sweep over midwicket.
Charles made it three sixes in 10 deliveries by clearing long-on off Patel, but his attempts to repeat the trick from the next ball led to his downfall as he provided Finn with a simple catch.
West Indies were soon in further trouble when Bopara, whose opening over had yielded just two runs, struck with consecutive deliveries. He bowled Nkruma Bonner via pad for three before having Christopher Barnwell superbly caught behind by Kieswetter, who sprung to his right to pull off a one-handed take.
Andre Russell survived the hat-trick, but was then run out in Bopara’s next over as Stokes provided an accurate throw to the non-striker’s end from long-on.
Hyatt was bowled next ball, for 28, as he swiped across the line and, after Derwin Christian had been superbly yorked by Dernbach and Devendra Bishoo run out by Jos Buttler’s throw from backward point, Bopara wrapped up the innings by having visiting captain Sammy caught at deep midwicket.
Sammy opened the bowling for West Indies and was immediately guided through point for four by Hales.
Kieswetter made the most of a no-ball in Fidel Edwards’ first over by thumping the resulting free hit over cow corner for the innings’ first six and runs continued to flow freely as England surged ahead of the required rate.
After Hales, fluent off front and back foot, had clipped Edwards wide of mid-on and fine-leg respectively for his third and fourth fours, an impudent lap-sweep from Kieswetter took England to 50 in the sixth over.
Russell was then pulled for six and four by Hales and, by the time leg-spinner Bishoo was called upon to bowl the eighth over, West Indies were in a dire position.
Hales moved past 50 - and took England into three figures - with consecutive swept fours off Bishoo and Kieswetter swiftly followed his partner to the landmark one ball after striking the hapless Bonner, whose two overs contained a number of abysmal long hops, for a mighty straight six.
Pietersen and Morgan’s record stand was soon overtaken and Kieswetter, who had been content to work the ball around for much of his innings, ended the match in fitting fashion by flaying Smith to the cover fence.