Impressive WI level series

West Indies produced a highly impressive performance to level the 3-match ODI series with England, earning a comfortable a 61-run victory in the Second ODI at Edgbaston. Yet again their star performer was Shivnarine Chanderpaul, whose superbly paced innings was complemented perfectly by Marlon Samuels’ equally level-headed effort after their team had been handed the disadvantage of batting first in murky conditions on a ground which has been soaked repeatedly in recent weeks. This was followed-up by a solid performance from their seam bowlers to ensure England were never really in with a shout. The series now goes to a decider at Trent Bridge on Saturday.

Paul Collingwood had won his first toss for England at his fourth attempt, and had little hesitation in inserting his opposition. His seamers vindicated the decision early on, James Anderson starting with a maiden and going on to an opening spell of 6-22-1; Ryan Sidebottom, recalled in place of Liam Plunkett after missing the Lord’s game with a virus, conceded 6 wides before bowling a legitimate delivery but recovered well, conceding just 27 off his 7 overs thereafter. Chris Gayle and Devon Smith played the early swing competently, however, and Smith was just beginning to find his feet, striking two crunching off-side boundaries, before bottom-edging a cut off Anderson through to Matthew Prior, who made no mistake. West Indies had lost their first wicket just after bringing-up their 50. This brought Chanderpaul to the crease, with the decision made to promote him to number-three.

Stuart Broad, however, could not find his form of the first game, struggling with his length in particular, and conceding 16 in his first 3 overs. Gayle refused to allow the movement to stem his usual aggression, and struck three monstrous sixes as well as two fours. However, immediately after the last of these he was too early on a drive at Sidebottom, and chipped a straightforward catch to Anderson at mid-on. Collingwood, who had followed the standard procedure by taking his second Powerplay immediately, was rewarded. He took the third at the first opportunity, too, as Broad regained his control and conceded just 7 off his next 3 overs.

Following Gayle’s dismissal, and the introduction of Dimitri Mascarenhas and Collingwood himself after the Powerplays were concluded, Chanderpaul and Samuels played accurate bowling with caution. Between Gayle’s dismissal at the start of the 13th over and the 28th bowled by Mascarenhas, the tourists scored just 3 boundaries, with the Hampshire seamer bowling particularly impressively. Crucially, however, Collingwood put down a straightforward caught-and-bowled opportunity offered by Samuels in the 27th over, when the Jamaican had just 14; the batsman could also have been stumped 4 balls later but Prior took the bails off just before the batsman raised his foot. In Collingwood’s next over Chanderpaul lofted a leg-side four and six off consecutive deliveries, and this provided the tourists with a shot in the arm. From 110 off 28.2 (Chanderpaul 28 off 68, Samuels 16 off 41) they began to up the pace: Broad was brought back and conceded 14 runs as Samuels struck three emphatic boundaries.

Mascarenhas, however, maintained a tight rein on the purse-strings, and intelligently introduced the slower-delivery when Samuels began raising a high backlift; and Michael Yardy, brought on just before a brief interruption as a squall blew across the ground, demonstrated the same darting left-arm slow-medium he had showed when bowling 10 overs for 18 against Australia in the Champions Trophy in October 2006. Samuels eventually broke Mascarenhas’ stranglehold, lofting a sizeable six over long-on, but the Hampshire man still finished with impressive figures of 10-31-0.

The most strikingly obvious weakness in England’s ODI team, especially when Andrew Flintoff is missing, however, is a lack of high-calibre death bowling. In the final 10 overs, this was brutally made plain by Chanderpaul and Samuels. Both had brought-up their half-centuries just before the 40-over mark, Chanderpaul off 85 deliveries, Samuels 84. They then cut loose: the carnage started when Anderson was brought back and conceded 9, and did not abate: Sidebottom’s inadequacies at this late stage were laid bare as he conceded 19 in the 45th, while Anderson’s last 4 went for 56, meaning he ended-up with his most expensive ODI analysis of 10-78-1. Broad grabbed two late gimme wickets as Samuels (77) and Dwayne Smith (7) attempted to continue the charge, and Sidebottom bowled a sensible final over, conceding just 4 and gaining the wicket of Runako Morton (3) but West Indies had built an imposing total of 278 for 5, including 102 in the last 10. Chanderpaul finished on a quite superlative 116* off 122 balls.

Once again expected roles were perhaps reversed in England’s opening partnership of Alastair Cook and Prior: the Essex sticker raced to 19 off 23 while his pinch-hitter partner accumulated a single off 7. However, perhaps over-excited, Cook failed to clear Edwards at mid-off when attempting to loft Daren Powell down the ground. The Barbadian pace bowler timed his leap to perfection. Ian Bell, however, was unfortunate to be given lbw to Ravi Rampaul as replays showed the ball, despite cutting back a long way, hit him high on the pad and would have carried over off-stump. Kevin Pietersen, looking to advance to Rampaul, Yorked himself and looked back to see the timber disturbed. England had lost their key man and knew a minor miracle was required at 64 for 3. After another over they had a chance to assess the situation, as rain drove the players from the field for half-an-hour.

Owais Shah and Prior attempted to rebuild, and Prior, in his 14th ODI innings, finally completed his maiden half-century, though he owed it to Denesh Ramdin, who reprieved him on 37. Nonetheless, the required rate escalated, and as it neared 6.5-an-over, Prior attempted to flick Powell through the leg, but hit it straight to Dwayne Smith at mid-wicket. This time, the fielder made no error. Next over, Edwards hurled an inswinger into Collingwood’s pads and won an easy lbw shout. Yardy, back in the slot he had occupied in his first couple of ODIs after an impromptu promotion to four in the Champions Trophy, attempted to rally again with Shah but all the time the rate escalated: between the 14th and 32nd overs there was just a single boundary off the bat.

With the rate up to almost 7-an-over, Shah finally struck his first boundary – and celebrated with two more, one a maximum. It failed to provide the impetus, however, and after Rampaul conceded just 2 in the 36th to take the required rate up to exactly 8, Yardy played one big stroke too many, finding Dwayne Smith at deep-mid-wicket off a pull from Bravo. Next over, the game was well-and-truly up as Shah got a bottom-edge to a short, wide delivery from Rampaul which gave Ramdin no difficulty. Rampaul and Edwards finished proceedings off at leisure, Rampaul completing his best ODI figures of 10-41-4. Edwards and Powell had also impressed with 10-43-2 and 10-45-2 respectively, while Bravo, who had not been expected to be fit to bowl before the game, managed 7 overs for the excellent figures of 1 for 24. West Indies can still take something from what has often been a wretched tour if they can win the final game on Saturday. A repeat of today’s performance would see them in with an excellent chance of doing so.

West Indies 278 for 5 (50 overs)
Shivnarine Chanderpaul 116*, Marlon Samuels 77

England 217 all out (46 overs)
Matthew Prior 52, Owais Shah 45

West Indies won by 61 runs
Man Of The Match:
Shivnarine Chanderpaul

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