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Salt In West Indies Wounds

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by Terry Finisterre

West Indies hosted England at the Daren Sammy Cricket Ground on Wednesday evening, the opening match of the Super Eights phase of the ICC T20 Men’s World Cup for these familiar foes.

After going through the group stages unbeaten, including a record-setting victory on this ground two days ago, the regional side turned in a lacklustre all-round performance to concede their first loss of the series. 

Put in to bat, the West Indies produced a team effort with the bat, but not quite the fireworks that the DSCG had become used to over the last weekend, with two teams compiling innings of over 200, and Australia chasing down 181.

Two days after posting the highest total in this year’s competition, the home team managed a respectable 180-4 from their 20 overs, but never really felt like building a formidable innings.

The top four, and five of seven batsmen in total, made between 23 and 38 but no one went on. Saint Lucia’s Johnson Charles was the top scorer with a sedate 38 runs off 34 balls, hitting four fours and a six.

After his majestic half-century on Monday against Afghanistan, Nicholas Pooran added 36 after opener Brandon King (23 off 13) retired hurt. Pooran was unusually circumspect, facing 32 balls and hitting just four fours and a six. 

Captain Rovman Powell’s knock of 36 included an eventful over in which he faced Liam Livingstone. Powell hit the 30-year-old righthander for three of his five sixes, before offering up a catch to Mark Wood at short third man. Sherfane Rutherford contributed 28 from 15 balls, he and Powell showing what the pitch could deliver.

The 2012 and 2016 champions have often been criticised for allowing too many scoring opportunities to go begging.

On the night, they set an unwanted record, allowing 51 dot balls, the most in a total of over 180 at the men’s T20 World Cup. The previous record? 50 by West Indies against India in the 2016 semifinals.

The England chase got off to a steady if unspectacular start, somewhat similar to the West Indies innings. A productive opening partnership of 67 was cut short by Roston Chase’s dismissal of Joss Butler for 25 from 22 balls.

Moeen Ali produced a brisk 13, off 10 balls, but his removal led to the introduction of Jonny Bairstow, who joined Salt to add an unbeaten 97 from 44 balls. 

Bairstow hit 48 off just 26 balls with five fours and two sixes. Alzarri Josep’s second over, the 14th, went for 14. He replaced Roston Chase, whose three overs had yielded but 19 in all. Akeal Hosein then gave up 16 off the 15th over.

But it was Romario Shepherd, rejoining the team after paternity leave, whose second over truly turned the game. Salt, who ended the match with a career total of 478 from just nine innings against West Indies, hit the Guyanese right hander for three fours and three sixes. 

30 from the over, and the writing was on the wall.

Salt finished the innings with 87 off 47 balls, including seven fours and five sixes. England amassed 181-2, and took full control of their super 8 group. West Indies, meanwhile, are left searching for answers at the bottom of the standings. 

On Friday, the DSCG will host a morning matchup, England remaining on island to face South Africa from 10:30 a.m.

The West Indies will hope to get their campaign back on track at the Kensington Oval in Barbados, where they will face the USA. 

PHOTO: Phil Salt flicks off his padsICC via Getty Images

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