WORLD CUP: Root, bowlers crush sloppy West Indies
England hammered West Indies to take a significant step towards the World Cup semi-finals, but sustained injuries to Eoin Morgan and Jason Roy along the way. Roy hurt his left hamstring and Morgan suffered a back spasm, both whilst fielding.
Despite those setbacks, England dismissed West Indies for only 212 thanks to the hostility of pace pair Jofra Archer and Mark Wood, who took three wickets each.
Still, that target could have been tricky because of the questions surrounding the participation of Roy and Morgan and the previous potency of the Windies attack.
However, stand-in opener Joe Root, who had already taken two wickets with his off-breaks, stroked his way to a classy unbeaten century.
He added 95 for the first wicket with Jonny Bairstow, then 104 with Chris Woakes, who was promoted to number three, as England won by eight wickets with 16.5 overs to spare.
England move up to second in the 10-team table, one point behind leaders New Zealand. Wins against Afghanistan on Tuesday and Sri Lanka next Friday would put them on the verge of the last four.
West Indies play Bangladesh on Monday knowing that defeat would put them on the brink of elimination.
England dominate heavyweight contest
This meeting between arguably the two most entertaining teams in the tournament promised much – a potential slugfest between speedy attacks and batting line-ups packed with power.
When Barbados-born Archer was hurling rockets at the belligerent Chris Gayle, the promise looked set to be fulfilled.
From there, though, England efficiently dismantled the sloppy West Indians, firstly exploiting the early damp conditions, then coasting the chase when the sun appeared.
The win may yet come at a price, though. Roy left the field in the eighth over of the day after pulling up whilst chasing the ball.
He missed almost seven weeks of action with a hamstring injury earlier this year.
Morgan’s back spasm came in even more innocuous circumstances, when he was moving to the non-striker’s stumps to back-up a throw.
Judging by the way he left the field – crestfallen and barely able to walk – the diagnosis of a back spasm actually seemed like good news, but the full extent of his and Roy’s injuries are yet to be revealed.
Archer shows the Windies what they missed
Archer, who has a British father, opted to play for England after joining county side Sussex. His decision was fuelled by previously missing out on the West Indies squad for an Under-19 World Cup.
After qualifying to play for England in March, he was already their leading wicket-taker in this World Cup and seemed to turn things up a notch against a team he knows so well.
The crucial blow, though, was struck by Liam Plunkett. Gayle was dropped by a diving Wood at third man when on 15 and was threatening some trademark destruction when he pulled Plunkett to deep square leg to depart for 36.
From 55-3, the Windies were stabilised by a stand of 89 between Nicholas Pooran, who made a composed 63, and Shimron Hetmyer.
With Adil Rashid starting poorly, Root made the breakthrough – he had both Hetmyer and Jason Holder caught and bowled.
From there, Archer and Wood, passed fit after ankle soreness, took over. Their venom, at lengths of either very short or very full, saw the last five wickets fall for 24 runs.
England complete impressive display
In all, given the setbacks of the injuries and the dangerous nature of the West Indies, this was England’s most impressive display of the tournament so far.
By the end, when Gayle was rolling out ineffective off-breaks whilst still wearing his cap, the gulf between two sides that drew a series 2-2 earlier this year was massive.
Any suggestion that the meagre target would be a challenge was dispelled at the beginning of the England chase, when Bairstow and Root ruthlessly dealt with some awful West Indies bowling.
The elevation up the order did little to change Root’s method – he played glorious cover drives and hared between the wickets.
Even after Bairstow uppercut Shannon Gabriel to third man for 45, the Windies could not take advantage of the promotion of Woakes, who helped himself to 40.
Soon after, Root, the tournament’s leading run-scorer, became the first England batsman to register a third hundred in World Cup cricket before Ben Stokes hit the winning runs. (BBC Sport)