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England will have every reason to be annoyed with the rain gods, and the lack of quality of Duckworth-Lewis when it comes to Twenty20 cricket after their mammoth score of 191 in 20 overs was reduced to the significantly more feasible ask of 10 an over from 6 thanks to a lengthy rain interruption that threatened to kill the game off completely. A 95-run partnership from just 56 balls for the 5th wicket between Eoin Morgan and Luke Wright went in vain as Chris Gayle powered West Indies past the finish line with a ball to spare. The result meant a confirmed trip to the Super 8s for the hosts, while England are left to shoot it out with neighbours Ireland on Tuesday for the second spot from Group D.
West Indies won the toss and made a weather influenced decision to bat second after the preceding game between Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe at the same venue had got ruined by rain too. Chris Gayle and Sulieman Benn returned to the Windies line-up from injury, with Kemar Roach and Denesh Ramdin the two unlucky players to miss out. Andre Fletcher kept wickets in place of the ever reliable Ramdin. England meanwhile left out James Anderson, Ravi Bopara, James Tredwell and Ajmal Shahzad from their squad of 15.
The brand new opening pair of Michael Lumb and Craig Kieswetter got the visitors off to a solid start, putting on 36 runs inside 4 overs before Michael Lumb fell to Chris Gayle for 28 from just 18 deliveries.Â Kieswetter, deprived off the strike in Lumb's presence took charge after the left-hander's departure and spanked Nikita Miller and Ravi Rampaul for a 6 each before the end of the poweplay. England had made an outstanding 60 from the first 6 overs, ironically the target West Indies were eventually set.
KieswetterÂ fell in the 7th over, soon after hitting a third six, Miller trapping the batsman leg before. England lost skipper Paul Collingwood (6) and Kevin Pietersen (24) in the 10th over of the innings and went into the turn at 88-4.
The next 9.2 overs belonged to Morgan and Wright as the pair mixed bludgeoning the ball with the long handle with the cheekiest of reverse paddles ever to be witnessed. The pair dealt largely in sixes, managing 7 between them. Most of those came between overs 15 and 17 as Morgan and Wright added 57 runs in that three over spell, including 27 off Ravi Rampaul, who might have well played his last match in the tournament. While the first three balls all went for 6, the shot of the day was an unbelievable paddle played by the left-handed Morgan with a straight bat over the fielder at short third man. It brought even a hint of a smile on the face of opposing skipper Chris Gayle.
England finished with 191, Morgan falling for 55 in the final over of the innings, while Wright remained unbeaten on 45. The West Indies bowlers had a poor game with the exception of Darren Sammy, who bowled his 4 overs for 22 runs and picked up the wickets of Collingwood and Pietersen.
With the rain clouds already beginning to hover overhead, Chris Gayle wasted no time in launching into Ryan Sidebottom. Beaten by the swing on three deliveries in the over, the Windies skipper hit the other three for 4,4 and 6 to give his side the start they needed. The rain came soon thereafter, with the West Indies at 30/0 in 2.2 over and the players were in for a long wait before the Gods had had enough.
The match finally resumed with the revised target for the West Indies 60 runs from 6 overs, or effectively 30 from 22 balls, very very achievable. A good last four balls from Tim Bresnan, pushed the target up to 27 from 18. Gayle picked up 8 from the next two deliveries as he smashed Graeme Swann for a massive 6 over midwicket, but fell the very next delivery, caught at short midwicket. His whirlwind innings of 25 from 12 deliveries had put the hosts in the driver's seat, but there was still plenty of work to be done. An excellent stumping fromÂ Kieswetter off a wide removed the promoted Kieron Pollard first ball, and the decision to send in Andre Fletcher ahead of the experience Ramnaresh Sarwan raised a few eyebrows.
At the end of an incredible 4th over which saw 13 runs and 2 wickets, West Indies needed 14 from the last 12. Six singles in the penultimate over brought the target down to 8 from Stuart Broad's last over and when it came down to 5 from 3 with Fletcher on strike, one couldn't help but wonder if the West Indies were going to self destruct. However, a poor ball, half way down the track and going down the leg side gave Fletcher an easy hit to the fence, and Collingwood's bizarre decision to leave a sweeper in the deep with 1 to win gave West Indies the rites of passage into the Super 8s.
It was an important win for the home team in the context of the tournament and for West Indies cricket in particular. England meanwhile will just have to wonder if 191 might have proved too many runs to chase had the rain not interfered. They will have little time to mull over what might have been as they play Ireland in the late start on Tuesday.
England 191/5 (20 overs, 9.55rpo)
Morgan 55 (35) Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Sammy 2-22
Wright 45* (27) Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Gayle 1-11
West Indies 60/2 (5.5 overs, 10.28rpo)
Gayle 25 (12) Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Swann 2-24
Chanderpaul 15* (13)
File Photo Copyright: RSA/ Cricket Ireland
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