PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, CMC – West Indies kept England winless on their Caribbean tour when they comprehensively outplayed them by six wickets in the solitary Digicel Twenty20 International yesterday.
West Indies’ bowlers stifled the tourists before dismissing them for a paltry 121 off 19.1 overs, with gangling left-arm spinner Sulieman Benn leading the assault with three for 24.
Ramnaresh Sarwan then extended his sublime form in the series, hammering a superb 59 off 46 balls to propel West Indies to 123 for four with two overs left in the contest at Guaracara Park.
The result left England still hunting for success after they lost the five-Test series 1-0 last week, on what has been a disappointing tour to date.
Faced with an upbeat West Indies side who bowled stingily and fielded brilliantly, England’s batsmen never threatened and collapsed meekly, after being sent in by stand-in captain Denesh Ramdin.
Sarwan, opening the batting in the absence of regular opener and captain Chris Gayle, then expertly guided West Indies to within sight of victory, to ensure they hosts maintained their dominance of England.
The attractive right-hander, England’s nightmare in the preceding Test series with 626 runs, picked up where he left off timing the ball delightfully and maneuvering it into spaces to milk England’s hapless bowlers.
He counted four fours and two sixes – the first a straight hit overhead off fast bowler Jimmy Anderson in the fifth over while the second sailed over long on off off-spinner Gareth Batty four overs later.
Seemingly inspired by his earlier effort in the field, Sarwan announced his intention from the outset, hammering cover-driven boundaries from the first two balls of the third over, as West Indies garnered 13 from fast bowler Amjad Khan’s first over.
He survived a simple chance to Khan at long off, off medium pacer Dimitri Mascarenhas when he was 38 in the 12th over, but it was the only blemish in a carefully crafted innings.
Sarwan lost opening partner Andre Fletcher for six in the second over holding out in the deep off seamer Stuart Broad, but formed two partnerships that sealed the deal for the hosts.
Firstly, he shared a 34-run, second wicket stand off just 22 balls with Shivnarine Chanderpaul (12) and then added a further 60 from 61 balls for the third wicket with Lendl Simmons who was unbeaten on 23 at the end.
Chanderpaul squirted Anderson to Paul Collingwood at point in the fifth over after he had hit three fours off 13 balls and Sarwan was eventually bowled, swinging wildly at Khan at 105 for three in the 16th.
Dwayne Bravo, in his first match back for West Indies following an eight-month injury layoff, managed just eight from 11 balls before pulling Khan to Kevin Pietersen at square leg with three required for victory, but new batsman Kieron Pollard finished the match in style with a boundary off the very next ball.
Earlier, England’s batsmen were strangled by miserly West Indies bowlers who were superbly backed up by razor-sharp fielding which resulted in three splendid run outs.
Steven Davies top-scored with 27 from 21 balls in his debut match for England while captain Andrew Strauss struck 22 off 25 deliveries, but the remainder of the batting flopped under the pressure of accurate West Indies bowling.
Going well at 66 for two, Pietersen’s dismissal for 12 at the end of the ninth sparked England’s demise and they lost their last eight wickets for 55 runs off just 61 balls.
Ravi Bopara, who promised much in scoring 13 from 11 balls, added a positive 25 from 19 balls with Davies for the first wicket, to give England a brisk start.
The right-handed Bopara paid the price for adventure, however, when he was the first scalp for the Windies, bowled by the first ball of fast bowler Lionel Baker’s second over, making room to hit out.
Pietersen joined Davies but never got into gear and his 12 required 16 balls and was without a single boundary. In fact, the left-handed Davies was the more fluent and his five boundaries included two well-struck pulls to leg off medium pacer Bravo’s first over.
Bravo exacted revenge with the first ball of his next over when he bowled Davies as the batsman again backed away to hit out at 55 for two in the eighth over.
The gangling Benn then gained a fortunate lbw decision against Pietersen in the next over before he also had Owais Shah caught on the long on boundary by Pollard for six in the 11th over at 84 for four.