England run into trouble
England ended a hugely successful summer on a low note as they slipped to a shock 25-run defeat at the hands of West Indies in the second NatWest International T20 at the Kia Oval.
After restricting their opponents to a seemingly meagre 113 for five - the lowest score batting first on this ground - Graeme Swann’s young side appeared well placed to follow up their 10-wicket triumph on Friday with another comprehensive win.
However, debutant left-arm spinner Garey Mathurin returned 3-9 from four overs with the new ball to undermine England’s chase and they subsequently fell some way short.
Four run-outs typified the hosts’ struggles as they failed to reach three figures for the first time in the shortest format of the game.
Scott Borthwick had earlier impressed on his Twenty20 bow with figures of 1-15 from four overs as England’s three-pronged spin attack excelled.
Ben Stokes, who struck 31 from 23 deliveries, was the only batsman to make any sort of impression during the run-chase.
Many would have anticipated England to romp to victory once again following their dominant display in the field, which came after Swann won the toss.
However, they made heavy weather of their pursuit after losing Alex Hales, who put on an unbroken 128 with Craig Kieswetter two days ago, in the second over.
The Nottinghamshire opener was deceived, and bowled, by a wonderful slower ball from left-armer Krishmar Santokie, another Windies debutant along with top-order batsman Miles Bascombe.
Mathurin, a seemingly innocuous presence dealing predominantly in flat deliveries that skidded on to the batsmen, then took centre stage, sending Kieswetter, Ravi Bopara and Jonathan Bairstow back to the pavilion in successive overs.
England’s wicketkeeper-batsman was bowled by one that skidded on, Bopara had no answer to a rare delivery that turned sharply, and Bairstow was bowled around his legs as he looked to sweep.
Samit Patel was then run out at the non-striker’s end by Devendra Bishoo's direct hit having been called for a single by Stokes, who was subsequently trapped in front by the leg-spinner, having taken three boundaries from his first over.
When Tim Bresnan holed out to Mathurin at long-off to give Andre Russell his first wicket, England’s position appeared perilous.
Borthwick and Jos Buttler steadied the ship, but the latter was run out by Darren Sammy, who produced a direct hit from mid-off after the Somerset youngster had set off for a run before realising his error.
Another run-out followed, Borthwick responding to a call from his captain only to be sent back with Marlon Samuels collecting the ball at cover.
When Jade Dernbach failed to make it back for a second to deep midwicket, West Indies were able to celebrate a remarkable triumph.
Just nine boundaries were struck in the tourists’ innings, which saw runs prove hard to come by from the outset.
Bresnan, adopting regular changes of pace, conceded just 12 in three tight opening overs from the Pavilion End.
Yet it was Dernbach who made the initial breakthrough, trapping Dwayne Smith plumb lbw for 11 as the batsman failed to get forward to one that nipped back.
Patel, who had shared the new ball with Bresnan, was reintroduced in place of Dernbach and had Bascombe leg before for three, playing back to a full one.
With just 25 runs coming from the six powerplay overs, West Indies seemed to be in disarray.
Johnson Charles briefly raised spirits by launching Patel over long-on for an enormous six, but he became Borthwick’s maiden international victim.
A delightful googly in the Durham leg-spinner’s second over bowled Charles through the gate for 21 and only 57 runs were on the board by the time Borthwick finished his spell by completing the 13th over.
With a slow hand clap ringing around sections of the ground in response to the laborious scoring rate, Christopher Barnwell attempted to launch Patel into the stands, only to be caught superbly by Hales, running around from long-on.
Marlon Samuels, having scored just 10 from his first 20 deliveries, finally registered the first boundary since the eighth over by punching Patel through the covers, but West Indies’ progress continued to border on the torturous.
Runs finally started to flow in the closing overs and Sammy clubbed Bopara down the ground for the innings’ second maximum in the 18th over.
The captain connected cleanly with another powerful strike five balls later, but succeeded only in picking out Borthwick at long-off.
Samuels finished unbeaten on 35 from as many balls and Russell added an unbeaten eight-ball 12, but few could have imagined West Indies’ total would prove enough.