WI lose despite Lewis’ 176 and Joseph’s five-fer
A late ram-raid of a sixth-wicket partnership between Jos Buttler and Moeen Ali enabled England to overcome a sensational innings from West Indies’ next big thing, Evin Lewis, and a maiden five-wicket haul from their thrusting speedster, Alzarri Joseph, to wrap up the one-day series with a game to spare in a rain-decided thriller at the Kia Oval.
Set an improbable 357 to win, after Lewis’ astonishing innings of 176 from 130 balls had powered West Indies to their highest ODI total in this country, England were given a flying start by the returning Jason Roy, who made 82 from 66 balls, only for Joseph to rip out each of their first five wickets in the space of 9.4 overs.
It was a misjudgement from Roy that clicked Joseph’s evening into gear. Moments after pasting a Joseph no-ball over long-on for his second six of the night, Roy attempted to run a boundary through third man but succeeded only in feathering a nick to the keeper.
Two overs later, Bairstow fell in identical fashion to depart for 39 from 51, and when Joe Root toe-ended an attempted pull to give Shai Hope his third catch in a row, England had slumped to 157-3.
Eoin Morgan, in need of some runs for his own peace of mind if nothing else, looked as busy as he has been in recent weeks in picking off three fours in a 17-ball 19. But then he climbed into a pull that seemed to be hurtling clean through fine leg for six, only for Kyle Hope, the substitute fielder, to cling onto a blinder, high and to his right just five metres the rope.
And if that was good, then the identity of the next catcher arguably made Sam Billings’ departure even more spectator, as Chris Gayle defied his creaking hamstrings to stretch low to his right at a solitary slip, and complete for his young team-mate a memorable milestone.
From an invidious position of 181-5, however, Moeen and Buttler paced their chase to near-perfection, reeling in a DLS par score that had at one stage been 37 runs in West Indies’ favour – first with measured accumulation and then with that familiar turn of timing and guile that characterises both men at their very best.
It was a cruel end to a valiant performance for West Indies, and made all the more cruel in light of the incident that brought a premature end to Lewis’ bombastic display. With 17 fours and seven sixes already to his name, he would surely have taken West Indies to even greater heights had he not inside-edged a Jake Ball yorker onto his right ankle and been forced to retire hurt with 22 balls remaining. X-rays subsequently revealed a hairline fracture and he will miss the final match at the Ageas Bowl on Friday.
That injury, however, cannot detract from a truly memorable innings. Lewis, who has been spoken of in hushed tones since bursting on the scene, first in the Caribbean Premier League and more recently with a brilliant pair of T20 centuries against India, has, by and large, built his reputation on power rather than longevity.
But, faced with a scoreline of 33-3 after Woakes had capitalised on some early life under hazy skies, he displayed another aspect of his batting character in a hugely responsible rebuilding effort.
With Jason Mohammed alongside him, he set about adding 117 for the fourth wicket to reinflate his team’s prospects, but the fun really started when Liam Plunkett returned to the attack for the 40th over of the innings.
West Indies, at that stage, were steadily placed on 212-4, but Lewis, who hitherto had barely played a single shot out of his comfort zone in amassing 109 from 105 balls with 14 fours, climbed into a steepling pull that just had the legs to plop over the head of Adil Rashid at backward square of his first six of the day.
A miss is as good as a mile in such circumstances, and emboldened by the end result, Lewis planted his front foot to dump Plunkett’s next delivery straight down the ground for another six.
A googly from Rashid’s next over might have ended the fun but Roy in the covers couldn’t cling on, and the upshot was another volley of six and four – a powerful strike over midwicket followed by a tickle through fine leg.
England’s bowlers might not agree, but West Indies’ onslaught was precisely the tonic that this match had needed, given that its build-up had been so comprehensively overshadowed by the aftermath of the last meeting of these two teams, in Bristol on Sunday. And it couldn’t have seemed further from the cards with Woakes tearing in from the Vauxhall End to claim 3-16 in his first 19 balls.
Gayle, fresh from his 94 from 78 balls at Bristol, lasted just four deliveries before edging to second slip. Shai Hope was caught behind soon afterwards. And when Marlon Samuels’ dismal series continued – pinned lbw for 1 from seven balls to a Woakes delivery that would have trimmed his bails, the contest seemed as good as over. Instead, it turned into quite the sinecure for a series that has been so comprehensively overshadowed. (ESPNCricinfo)