West Indies crash at Lord’s

Pretty it may not have been, but an England side that appeared to be at the mercy of the West Indies at the halfway point at Lord’s struck back with the ball as they completed a comprehensive 79-run victory in the first ODI.

Despite Fidel Edwards ripping the lower order apart with figures of 5-45, England scraped together 225 before the West Indies plummeted to 13-4, leaving Shivnarine Chanderpaul to wage a lone war yet again.

Put in under heavy skies, England’s new-look opening partnership of Alastair Cook and Matt Prior initially found the going tough. Ravi Rampaul and Daren Powell held their lines as England’s supposed fresh start bore echoes of their Caribbean slow-go: the first boundary did not come for eight overs. Prior, seen by many as a pinch-hitter to inject early pace into the innings, was tied down by a disciplined seam attack and could only force his way to 34 from 65 balls.

Cook too was unable to break free and on 29 found himself Edward’s first victim, having spooned a splice-jarring bouncer to Dwayne Bravo at square-leg to leave England 47-1 in the 14th over. Crucially however, the West Indies failed to make successive breakthroughs and Prior rebuilt with the fit-again Ian Bell, albeit slowly. It was another ten overs before Prior was trapped leg before by Dwayne Smith, but the stiff resistance continued through Bell and Kevin Pietersen, who added 52 together.

The West Indies simply did not pick up enough wickets in the first thirty overs; England were content to accept the singles offered by a deeply-set field and the fact that the final six batsmen could only make 12 between them was ultimately irrelevant. Somewhat paradoxically, the apparently dated tactics that brought vehement criticism at the World Cup proved to be the perfect approach on a day when boundaries were hard to come by.

Bell grafted his way to a tenth ODI fifty, making 56 from 75 balls in all, while Kevin Pietersen again looked rusty, but still managed to carve out a handy 33 – with just a solitary four. However once Bell departed with the score on 177 thanks to a disastrous run out, England’s innings went into a tailspin. Admittedly they were not helped by a break for rain in 43rd over, nor by a fired up Edwards frequently touching 95mph, but that alone does not explain why the last six wickets vanished for 48 runs.

Only Owais Shah retained any sort of momentum and did his chances no harm whatsoever with a thoughtful 42 from 38 balls, packed with deft touches and field-splitting boundaries. His selection was also criticised, with many bracketing him with the likes of Ed Joyce and Michael Vaughan, too pedestrian for the shorter game. But in two innings – his match winning knock in the Twenty20 game on Friday and an equally important innings here at The Oval – he suddenly looks to be the versatile figure necessary in the middle order. Eventually England staggered their way through the overs, falling one ball short of batting out the full fifty when Shah was run out trying to retrieve the strike from James Anderson.

225 was not a hugely impressive total at the lunch interval, but as soon as the West Indies had been reduced to four down in the space of 31 balls, it must have seemed mountain-like. Facing a new-ball attack of Anderson and Liam Plunkett, both of whom ran in aggressively, Chris Gayle could only shovel to Stuart Broad at deep fine-leg and was soon joined in procession by Devon Smith after a hideous call for a non-existent second to Anderson in the deep. Anderson himself then entered the party by removing Runako Morton’s off-stump and inducing an outside edge from Marlon Samuels in successive deliveries.

Chanderpaul and Bravo came together at the crease in familiar circumstances and again counter-attacked in their usual manners: the former through his stoic defence, the latter with typically West Indian flair. Against such accurate and penetrative seam bowling however, Bravo’s strokemaking approach was fraught with danger and on 29 he was caught behind to give Stuart Broad his first wicket of the afternoon. A beauty from Broad then accounted for Denesh Ramdin, the ball jagging back from a length to crash into the stumps; Dwayne Smith feathered an attempted cut through to the keeper to leave West Indies 93-7.

The only substantial support Chanderpaul received from any batsman other than Bravo came from the bat of Ravi Rampaul, playing in his first ODI in three years. Unlike Daren Powell, curiously batting ahead of him at nine, Rampaul seemed competent enough against Monty Panesar’s left-arm spin and executed several sweet shots in a spirited 24. When he got a leading edge off Plunkett, it was left to Chanderpaul to see himself to an unbeaten 53: this tour alone will belong to his batting, regardless of the West Indies’ inadequacy or England’s dominance. A final run out brought the West Indies to a close on 146; they will be hoping to improve drastically in the second match of the series, to be held at Edgbaston on Wednesday.

England 225 all out (49.5 overs)
Alastair Cook 29, Matt Prior 34, Ian Bell 56, Kevin Pietersen 33, Owais Shah 42
Fidel Edwards 5-45

West Indies 146 all out (39.5 overs)
Shivnarine Chanderpaul 53*, Dwayne Bravo 29, Ravi Rampaul 24
Stuart Broad 3-20, James Anderson 2-23, Liam Plunkett 2-38

England won by 79 runs
Man of the Match: Fidel Edwards

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