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The second ODI between England and West Indies at The Oval saw the return of Calypso King Chris Gayle to his national colors after more than a year but it was the England skipper Alastair Cook who stole all the limelight with a brilliant century that sealed the series 2-0 in the favor of the hosts with a whopping eight wicket victory. England asked the Windies to bat first and it seemed a poor decision initially with Gayle having the bowlers at his mercy during his half century but the English bowlers pulled it back beautifully to restrict the visitors to 238-9 despite some late Dwayne Bravo heroics with the bat. Cook then led the way with a scintillating century and was ably supported by a belligerent Ian Bell and later by a patient Jonathan Trott as the Englishmen hardly broke a sweat in overcoming the modest target.
The biggest news from the toss was that the big hitting Chris Gayle made his comeback to the West Indies side after a year long exile. He replaced Darren Bravo in the Windies line-up from the side who got hammered in the first ODI. Bravo had returned home after picking up an injury in the field in the last game. The West Indies also amended their bowling unit, recalling 3rd Test hero Tino Best, who replaced the erratic Andre Russell. England meanwhile fielded an unchanged side from their comfortable victory in the first game. Alastair Cook won the toss and chose to field first placing immense faith in his pace bowlers to get the better of Chris Gayle.
The West Indian openers Lendl Simmons and Chris Gayle had a rather tame start but it had more to do with the accurate bowling of the English opening bowlers James Anderson and Steve Finn who sent down three maidens within the first five overs and gave away just eight runs. Gayle then cut loose with three consecutive boundaries off Finn and it was only a sign of things to come as he welcomed first change man Tim Bresnan by bulldozing him for three sixes in his opening over. He soon reached his half century off just 41 balls but was soon out for 53 as Graeme Swann got the better of him. He was adjudged LBW by the on-field umpire but as there was bat involved, he made use of the UDRS only to be given out harshly by the third umpire. Simmons was still batting on 10*(43) balls and that meant the visitors could manage just 63-1 off 16 overs despite the Gayle-storm.
It was all downhill for the Windies after Gayleâ€™s departure as Stuart Broad came on to dismiss Dwayne Smith for a duck as he nicked one to the keeper. Soon after, Simmons was run out by skipper Cook for a snail paced 12 and on the last ball of that over Marlon Samuels (13) top-edged Broad and was caught by Bresnan in the deep.
That brought together the IPL bigwigs Dwayne Bravo and Kieron Pollard and they started to resurrect the innings cautiously by sensibly rotating the strike. After getting a feel of things, they started to hit the big shots and Bravo was lucky to survive after Eoin Morgan spilled a catch on hitting the ground at long off after a brilliant effort. Pollard too had his share of luck as the wicketkeeper failed to effect a stumping off Swann just before the batting powerplay as the score crept on to 133-4 after 35 overs.
The Trinidadians made merry in the batting powerplay and scored 47 runs to improve their team's fortunes. Bravo reached his half century and the pair brought up their crucial hundred run partnership but England gained a vital breakthrough as Pollard was dismissed for 41 by a short ball from Bresnan just before the powerplay ended. Bravo continued to dazzle in the company of Darren Sammy until the skipper fell to Finn for a quickfire 21. Thereafter, England pulled things back brilliantly by picking up Denesh Ramdin(2), Bravo(77) and Sunil Narine(2) in quick succession to restrict the visitors to 238-9.
The Englishmen were off to a wonderful start in response to the Windies' under-par score as both the openers seemed to be in fine nick picking the gaps with ease. While Ian Bell continued from where he left off from his century in the first game, the English skipper was looking even better. England were racing towards the modest target with both batsmen sending the ball to the boundary with some exquisite timing. They played risk-free cricket while maintaining impressive strike rates and in pretty quick time Cook reached his half century. Their century partnership took the hosts to 110-0 after 18 overs and put them right on course for a comfortable victory.
Bell soon reached his fifty as well but failed to carry on as he fell for 53 hitting Sammy straight to Gayle at cover. That left the England skipper in the company of Jonathan Trott and though they were still in control of the chase, the scoring rate was considerable slower than it was before the fall of Bell. They finally picked up some steam around the thirty over mark as the medium pace of Sammy and Smith was just too easy for them. Cook went on to reach his 5th ODI hundred by running down a single to third man and his team was sniffing victory by the end of the 36th over with the score reading 187-1.
With just a handful of runs needed for victory, the skipper wanted to finish things off in a hurry. He pulled a short ball from his counterpart Sammy over the long on boundary for maximum, but perished for 112 on the very next ball trying to hit another one out of the park. In came Ravi Bopara and he made sure there were no more hiccups as his unbeaten 36 run alliance with Trott (43*) took England home to a thumping eight wicket victory.
A resounding victory in this game means England have an unassailable 2-0 lead and although that makes the final ODI on Friday, 22nd June at Leeds a dead rubber, England will want to complete a whitewash to show the world that they have the capacity to astound in the shorter formats of the game as well. West Indies, on the other hand, will like to pull one back for themselves and Gayle will be itching to announce himself more vocally to the cricketing world.
England: A Cook (c), I Bell, J Trott, R Bopara, E Morgan, C Kieswetter(wk), T Bresnan, S Broad, G Swann, J Anderson, S Finn
West Indies: C Gayle, L Simmons, M Samuels, D Smith, Dwayne Bravo, K Pollard, D Ramdin (wk), D Sammy (c), T Best, R Rampaul, S Narine
West Indies 238-9 (50 overs, 4.76 rpo)
Dwayne Bravo 77(82) J Anderson 2-38
C Gayle 53 (51) S Broad 2- 43
England 239-2 (45 overs, 5.31 rpo)
A Cook 112(120) D Sammy 2-46
I Bell 53 (64)Â·
England win by 8 wickets with 30 balls to spare
- 22/06/2012 14:32 - Third ODI abandoned, England win the series 2-0
- 22/06/2012 01:09 - Gibson expects West Indies to fight to avoid clean sweep
- 20/06/2012 00:27 - England rest Bresnan, Broad and Swann for 3rd ODI against West Indies