Friday 15 December 2017

Shot-shy England lose to Windies, despite best efforts of Irishman Eoin Morgan

Rory Dollard

A change of conditions did not bring a change in fortunes for England's struggling cricketers as they slipped to a seven-wicket defeat against West Indies in their first World Twenty20 warm-up.

In the first of two pre-tournament practice matches in Bangladesh, England managed a modest 131 for seven having opting to bat first at Fatullah, an innings that contained just one six.

That was scored by Eoin Morgan, captaining while Stuart Broad sat out with tendonitis, on his way to a hard-working 43 not out.

West Indies matched that six count in the third over and passed it in the fourth, as Chris Gayle (58 not out) Dwayne Smith (36) let rip in the powerplay overs.

They finished with five maximums to their name and cruised to victory with 23 balls remaining and Gayle in fine touch.

Having already beaten England in the recent T20 series in the Caribbean, it was another timely reminder about which of these sides carries the biggest threat at the forthcoming competition.

England's innings was devoid of fireworks, Morgan by some distance the top performer.

Just one other batsman made it out of the teens, Moeen Ali making 22 in 16 balls.

Michael Lumb had hinted at a run-fest when he hit 14 off the first five balls of the day - including three boundaries - only for Krishmar Santokie to uproot his middle stump with the sixth.

Moeen, who had come in at number seven when the sides met in Barbados five days ago, was this time sent in at three.

He had a quick look at the pace of the pitch before hitting two boundaries in three balls, one off Santokie and the second down the ground off the leg-spin of Samuel Badree.

Moeen found the ropes again with an imperious back-foot drive in the fifth over but was gone when he top-edged Sheldon Cottrell to mid-on.

With the game moving on around him, opener Alex Hales had edged along to nine in 12 balls and he fell as soon as looked to lift the tempo.

A botched slog-sweep against Badree saw him pinned lbw and left England 48 for three after six powerplay overs.

Morgan and Jos Buttler took the score to 70 by halfway, both men starting cautiously with just Ravi Bopara left of the recognised batsmen.

The pair added 33 before Buttler lost patience, backing away to leg and spooning a gentle catch to point to give Andre Russell a wicket in his first over.

England scored only 19 runs between the 10th and 15th overs, Morgan responding by striking Marlon Samuels for the only six of the innings.

Bopara followed up with a pair of well-timed shots but holed out for 15 when taking on Cottrell one more time.

Bresnan (nought) and Chris Jordan (eight) added little to the cause, but Morgan did his best to reach a competitive total.

The West Indies reply was emphatic from the off.

Smith struck two boundaries in James Tredwell's opening over, before Jordan's untidy start cost 11 from the other end.

Then came a run of three sixes in six deliveries, an effort that put England's ball striking to shame.

Smith got the ball rolling by lifting Tredwell over the top before both he and Gayle smashed Tim Bresnan long and straight down the ground.

The Windies reached 50 from five overs as their opening pair continued to throw the bat with abandon, Jade Dernbach taken for two streaky boundaries and Bresnan's struggles continuing as he leaked 15 from his second visit.

After the six-over powerplay, the score was 65 without loss - compared to England's 48 for three at the same stage - but the wily Bopara joined Tredwell in putting the brakes on.

Tredwell claimed the first wicket, Smith caught at long-leg for a fine 36, but Bopara's tricky seamers were crucial to the cause.

His first three overs yielded just 12, but with Gayle still at the crease a West Indies win still appeared inevitable.

Johnson Charles (seven) and Marlon Samuels (two) fell to Bopara and Stephen Parry respectively, but Gayle - whose 58 occupied just 38 deliveries - finished the job with Lendl Simmons (15no).

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