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Alex Hales stole the spotlight on his home ground with a match winning knock that made sure England didnâ€™t miss the services of a certain Kevin Pietersen during a comfortable 7 wicket win over the Windies. His pulls, cuts and drives had class written all over them and along with Ravi Bopara, he went about the chase like an experienced campaigner. He was unfortunate though to be dismissed on 99 but this will remain one of the best knocks by an English batsman in T20 internationals. Earlier, Dwayne Smith and Dwayne Bravo helped West Indies post a challenging 172-4 after a no-show from Chris Gayle, but even that proved insufficient in the end.
Dry weather greeted one and all at Nottingham for the last game of the West Indies tour of England, a one-off T20 International. Though the visitors had been clearly outplayed in the entire series, this match seemed their best chance of trying to sneak a consolation victory. Fresh faces joined England in the form of Alex Hales, Jos Butler, Samit Patel and Jade Dernbach while the visitors chose to play speedster Fidel Edwards ahead of the big hitting Andre Russell to strengthen their bowling. The flip of the coin went the visitorâ€™s way and they chose to bat first backing their batting firepower to put up a huge total on the board.
Steven Finn and Jade Dernbach started off proceedings in the powerplay and they faced the humongous task of bowling to a lethal opening combination of Chris Gayle and Dwayne Smith. It was a sedate start by the Windies but they suffered a major setback very soon when Jonny Bairstow got under a miscued pull by big-fish Gayle to dismiss him for just 2 runs. Another catch by Bairstow (a full stretched dive this time) handed England the wicket of Lendl Simmons (6) to skipper Stuart Broad off his first ball to leave the visitors reeling at 29-2 after 6 overs.
Spin was brought on right after the powerplay in the form of Graeme Swann and Samit Patel. The ploy worked as Swann had Marlon Samuels caught behind for 4 off just his second ball to deepen the misery of the Windies. Dwayne Bravo came in and started to do the rebuilding work by sensibly rotating the strike while Smith started to cut loose, pounding fours and sixes. He paraded on to his half century and led the Windies fight back by carrying them to 93-3 after 14 overs.
Smith was going hammer and tongs after his half century but perished after having made an effective 70. Kieron Pollard walked in and started off with a couple of boundaries and in his company Bravo shed his inhibitions and got into the act with consecutive sixes. In the 19th over, England missed the stumps at both ends and both batsmen stayed on and eventually plundered bucket loads of runs in a woeful Dernbach last spell. Bravo reached his 50 in the last over and the Windies managed a massive 71 runs in the last five overs to achieve a powerful 172-4.
The Englishmen started off calmly just like their counterparts and even lost an early wicket in the form of Craig Kieswetter for 3. Local boy Alex Hales looked in good nick though and hit a couple of big ones to ensure the hosts were not too far behind. The powerplay overs came to an end with the hosts on 42-1 after 6 overs but it was still an uphill task as the required run rate was constantly climbing after each over.
Hales and Ravi Bopara built a healthy partnership and made sure the hosts didnâ€™t lose any quick wickets. While Bopara was sanely nudging the ball around, Hales kept the asking rate in check by occasionally sending the ball to the fence. Medium pacers were operating around the halfway mark and both batsmen started going after the bowlers. Sunil Narine failed to recreate his IPL magic and it was all too comfortable for the duo as they brought up their 100 partnership - in which Hales did the bulk of the scoring - to propel the hosts to 127-1 in 15 overs.
Bopara was unforgiving thereafter and simply toyed with the West Indian bowling attack with some fabulous fours and to make matters worse, in the 18th over, Darren Sammy mistimed his jump and dropped him off Sunil Narine at short midwicket. Bopara marched on to his fifty and eased the pressure on Hales who had slowed down a tad closing in on his century. With just four runs needed for victory, Hales received a peach of a yorker from Rampaul and that ended his master-class on an agonizing 99. Bopara (59) too perished in the last over but Eoin Morgan came in to finish off the formalities with a couple in the last over to complete a comprehensive 7 wicket victory.
Yet another defeat means the visitors West Indies go back home without pocketing a single win over the course of the tour and it just shows the utter domination by the hosts England. The Windies were first outplayed in the three Test series 2-0 and though their side was strengthened by the inclusion of some star players, they turned out to be second best even in the shorter formats of the game losing the ODI series 2-0 and also losing the only T20 international.
The Windies will have to take the positives out of this tour and hope to put up a better show when they host New Zealand for a 2 T20I, 5 ODI and 2 Test series, starting later this month. Meanwhile, England will try to replicate their dominance at home when they welcome the Aussies for a 5 ODI series in less than a week.
England: C Kieswetter (wk), A Hales, R Bopara, E Morgan, J Bairstow, J Butler, S Patel, S Broad(c), G Swann, J Dernbach, S Finn
West Indies: C Gayle, L Simmons, M Samuels, D Smith, Dwayne Bravo, K Pollard, D Ramdin (wk), D Sammy (c), R Rampaul, S Narine, F Edwards
West Indies 172-4 (20 overs, 8.6 rpo)
D Smith 70(54) S Finn 2-22
D Bravo 54* (36) G Swann 1-32
England 173-3 (19.4 overs, 8.79 rpo)
A Hales 99(68) R Rampaul 2-37
R Bopara 59(44) M Samuels 1-15
England won by 7 wickets with 2 balls to spare.
File Photograph Copyright: ICC
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