West Indies gain Twenty20 win

West Indies finally found their stride on this tour, when they completed a 15 run victory over England in a Twenty20 contest at The Brit Oval.

West Indies won the toss and batted first and blitzed their way to 208-8, Devon Smith top scored with 61, predictably Shiv Chanderpaul showed his versatility with 41 off 26 balls, and Marlon Samuels blazed a thoroughly entertaining 51.

It was a baptism of fire for England’s new ODI skipper Paul Collingwood, as his bowling attack were unable to contain the Caribbean flair in the opposition’s ranks. When it came to England’s turn, the innings never really took off till Michael Yardy joined his captain at the crease with the score on 101-6, and they shared a 91 run stand in 7.3 overs. The charge came inevitably too late, the hosts finishing on 193-7.

Like or loathe Twenty20 cricket, you cannot deny the fun and excitement factor that accompanies it, alongside the healthy turn out in the stands. They were not to be disappointed as this game contained more than its fair share of thrills and spills.

When Jimmy Anderson bowled West Indies ODI captain Chris Gayle for 5, England could be forgiven for thinking the opponents greatest dangerman had been dealt with.

Instead his fellow opener Smith took matters into his own hands and took the game to the bowlers. Chanderpaul joined him in the middle at the fall of Gayle’s wicket, and they had put on 84, before one of England’s debutants, Dmitri Mascarenhas, did something England had struggled to do for most of this international season so far, and dismissed Chanderpaul, thanks to a fine diving effort from Alistair Cook.

Devon Smith was also scoring at a rapid rate, he had struck his 61 off only 34 balls before he was removed in Mascarenhas’s next over, and West Indies good early work was in danger of being undone.

Clever work from Matt Prior saw Dwayne Bravo stumped down the leg side for 1, but Samuels was quickly finding his stride. He was perhaps the pick of the West Indies batsmen, with some typically Caribbean strokeplay, in the extreme. When he ferociously climbed into a length ball on leg stump from Ryan Sidebottom, the ball must have landed closer to the bowlers home ground in Nottingham than the Oval.

Samuels 50 came off only 25 balls, only two balls outside the Twenty20 record, set by none other than Sanath Jayasuriya.

Denesh Ramdin shared an excellent 58 run partnership with Samuels, mixing belligerence with skilful deflections.

England still seemed to be neglecting the fuller delivery, opting instead to bowl back of a length and rely on steep bounce to unsettle the West Indies. A tactic it must be said did not work particularly well on this occasion.

Chris Gayle’s men were certainly more at home playing their shots in this shortened version of one-day cricket, rather than the technical pressures of Test cricket. Where their flamboyant strokeplay, and lack of discpline was part of their downfall in the recent Test series, it proved to be their strength in this format. The lack of swing movement for England was also of considerable benefit to the visitors.

All of England’s attack were dealt a fair degree of brutal treatment, Yardy being the most economic going for 35 off his four overs. Will England rue the decision not to select a specialist spinner in Monty Panesar ?

With 209 runs to win, England were always going to be up against it, despite having an excellent track to bat on.

Alastair Cook opened up with Matt Prior, one can’t help but think this decision made with the 50 over game in mind, as Cook’s style would not be entirely suited to Twenty20 cricket, for all his class.

The Essex man fell for 15 with the score on 40, and Prior was dismissed in the same over, after a promising start, for 25.

England’s other debutant Jon Trott worked the ball around unspectacularly, before playing around a straight one, and the hopes of the side seemed to rest wholly on Kevin Pietersen’s shoulders. He was beginning to warm to the task, taking Darren Sammy for two consecutive fours before running himself out going for a third. What was of more immediate concern was Pietersen lying prostrate gripping his knee after a desperate dive. England will hope it was only a twinge.

The hosts were seemingly out of the game, when Owais Shah played around his front pad to be trapped lbw by the mightily impressive Dwayne Smith, but Mike Yardy and Captain ‘Colly’ blazed away to finally get England moving in the right direction.

The skipper bedded himself in initially before unleashing a series of thumps down the ground for maximums, and generally leading from the front. He is clearly England’s finest and most clever ODI player, and if there were any thoughts of captaincy being a burden, it certainly was not in evidence today.

Yardy offered excellent support, but neither could muster the necessary boundaries in the last two overs of the innings when 30 runs were required. Collingwood’s fine innings finally ended when he was run out off the penultimate ball of the match for 79. Dwayne Smith finished with the figures of the day with 3-24 off four overs, and what he lacks in pace he makes up for with accuracy and variations.

A thoroughly enjoyable spectacle which delivered everything associated with Twenty20 cricket, and West Indies finished the game worthy winners.

They looked hungry to gain this elusive first international win on this tour, and will be hoping to repeat the result when the teams do battle again tomorrow ahead of Sunday’s first of three ODI’s.

West Indies 208-9 off 20 overs
Devon Smith 61, Marlon Samuels 51, Shivnarine Chanderpaul 41
James Anderson 2-37, Dimitri Mascarenhas 2-39

England 193-7 off 20 overs
Paul Collingwood 79, Matt Prior 25
Dwayne Smith 3-24, Darren Sammy 2-37

West Indies won by 15 runs

Cricket Web Player of the Match: Paul Collingwood

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