Dubai, October 24: A ruthless bowling performance saw England get their ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2021 campaign off to a perfect start as they defeated the West Indies by six wickets in Dubai.
The rematch between the 2016 finalists was eagerly anticipated but proved almost as one-sided as that famous occasion in Kolkata had been dramatic, with the reigning champions subsiding to 55 all out – their second-lowest ever T20I score.
Spin twins Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid were the principal architects of West Indies’ downfall, the latter finishing with England’s best-ever T20I figures of four for two after Moeen had set the tone with two wickets and 18 dot balls in a miserly four-over spell.
The returning Tymal Mills, representing England for the first time since February 2017, chipped in with two scalps of his own including key man Chris Gayle, who was the only batter to make it into double figures.
Akeal Hosein caused problems for England’s powerful batting line-up in reply, taking two for 24, but the modest nature of the target restricted West Indies’ ability to apply real pressure and Jos Buttler’s unbeaten 24 steered the 2019 ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup winners home with more than half their overs remaining.
Having opted to bowl upon winning the toss, Morgan opened up with Moeen and the off-spinner was greeted by an early show of intent by Evin Lewis, who lofted the final ball of the first over for what would turn out to be the only six of the innings.
The England all-rounder had his revenge in the very next over, sprinting back from mid-off to take a fine catch when Lewis tried to repeat the trick off the bowling of Chris Woakes and found more height than distance.
Moeen went on to account for Lendl Simmons, who picked out Liam Livingstone on the deep midwicket boundary, to leave both openers back in the pavilion inside three overs.
Consecutive boundaries for Shimron Hetmyer injected some momentum into the innings at the start of the fifth over but Moeen again struck back as the left-hander chipped to Morgan at mid-on.
Such a situation called for experienced heads and in Gayle and Dwayne Bravo, both playing in their seventh ICC Men’s T20 World Cups, West Indies appeared to have just the men for the job.
But having struck three typically powerful boundaries, Gayle soon miscued a pull off Mills and was well caught by a backpedalling Dawid Malan off the final ball of the powerplay, which concluded with West Indies languishing on 31 for four.
The situation only grew more desperate from there with Bravo next to fall, flashing hard at Chris Jordan’s second delivery and succeeding only in finding Jonny Bairstow at backward point.
Mills and Jordan kept the pressure firmly applied in the middle overs, the former removing Nicholas Pooran for a single, and the return of spin paid instant dividends as Rashid’s first delivery cleaned up Andre Russell without scoring.
Captain Kieron Pollard was his side’s final hope of setting a challenging target but having initially been watchful as wickets fell around him, he took on Rashid at the start of the 13th over and provided Bairstow with a routine catch at long-on.
Obed McCoy fell in identical circumstances next ball and though last man Ravi Rampaul survived the hat-trick delivery, a heave in the leg-spinner’s next over saw him clean bowled as the innings was wrapped up with 5.4 overs left unused.
West Indies followed England’s lead in opening with a spinner but Buttler was quickly into the groove, driving Hosein through the covers for a boundary to get the chase going.
Roy was next to take the attack to the left-armer, clearing the ropes over extra cover, but was soon departing the fray after chipping a Ravi Rampaul slower ball to Gayle on 11.
It was Bairstow rather than Malan who walked out at number three and consecutive boundaries took England more than halfway towards their target inside four overs.
Then came a slight wobble as Hosein claimed return catches to remove Bairstow and Livingstone, the second of which was a stunning one-handed effort to his left, either side of Moeen being run out following a mix-up.
But captain Morgan joined Buttler to see his side over the finish line, the wicketkeeper pulling the winning runs to the mid-wicket boundary from the second ball of the ninth over.
Courtesy : ICC