England on top despite Gayle, Bravo knocks
The visitors were threatening to completely lose their way when the in-form Marlon Samuels pulled lazily to deep midwicket but Bravo, with a display of class strokeplay, and Pollard, with a little more brute strength, played sensibly to at least ensure the total passed 200, as West Indies faded again at the end. Pollard was given a life on 28 when Craig Kieswetter missed a stumping chance, the ball before the batting Powerplay was taken, and the fielding restrictions brought 47 runs - only for the final five overs of the innings to bring just 19.
Darren Sammy contributed a useful 21 but England continued to chip away to ensure West Indies did not have enough wickets left for a full-blown onslaught to end the innings. Bravo fell to the first ball of the penultimate over - Ravi Bopara holding his nerve under a steepling chance - as James Anderson picked up important late wickets. West Indies’ total was considerably below the 262-run average of the previous 10 ODIs on this ground.
The match was being played against a sombre backdrop, following the death on Monday of Surrey batsman Tom Maynard, and there was a minute’s silence before play started while both teams wore black armbands. Last night Stuart Broad tweeted about the England’s desire to secure victory in Maynard’s memory and his figures of 2 for 43 played a key part in keeping West Indies under wraps.
Gayle lifted the mood somewhat with some explosive strokeplay, as he cut loose following a careful start where the first five overs brought eight runs. It was the introduction of Tim Bresnan that sparked Gayle as he clubbed three consecutive sixes, including a massive blow on to the roof of the stand over deep midwicket. A further straight six followed off Anderson and Gayle’s fifty came off 41 balls.
Alastair Cook was then rewarded for some smart captaincy, having introduced Graeme Swann ahead of Broad. Swann’s first over cost three then, with the third ball of his second, he won an lbw decision from Tony Hill who ruled the ball had struck pad fractionally before the inside edge. Gayle reviewed the decision immediately and third umpire, Kumar Dharmasena, had a long look before ruling that there was not sufficient evidence to overturn the decision, much to Gayle’s frustration as he lingered at the crease.
Despite Gayle’s innings the scoring rate had not escaped from England, largely because they had kept Lendl Simmons very quiet at the other end. It was a painful innings from Simmons who struggled for timing as he laboured for 50 deliveries before chancing a single to mid-off where he was beaten by a direct hit from Cook.
Either side of that West Indies had lost two of their in-form batsmen. Dwayne Smith, who opened in the first match in Gayle’s absence and this time was at No. 3 in place of the injured Darren Bravo, flashed at a wide delivery in Broad’s first over. Given the loss of quick wickets it was crucial Samuels steadied the innings but four balls after Simmons’ run out he lazily picked out deep midwicket with a top-edged pull.—Agencies