BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, CMC – Dwayne Bravo’s face-saving 69 off 72 balls was upstaged, when Andrew Strauss made a polished 79 not out from 61 balls to carry England to a nine-wicket victory in the rain-affected fourth One-day International yesterday to draw level in the five-match series.
West Indies were left to defend a modest victory target of 135 from 20 overs, following a two-hour delay for rain which started during the break between innings.
The home team bowled inconsistently, and allowed Strauss and Ravi Bopara to put England firmly on track for victory with an opening stand of 108 from 87 balls.
Kieron Pollard had Bopara caught at deep fine leg for 35 in the 15th over, but Strauss remained to help England hit the jackpot with nine balls to spare, when he guided Bravo to third man for his ninth four.
The result means that the series is now tied 2-2, and once the West Indies players do not strike, sets things up for a thrilling finish on Friday at the Beausejour Stadium in St. Lucia. Earlier, Bravo belted 69 from 72 balls to help West Indies recover from a mid-innings wobble to reach 239 for nine from their allocation of 50 overs. Bravo reached his landmark from 61 balls, when he swung James Anderson over wide long-on for his fifth four, and then celebrated by repeating the shot off the next ball for his second six. He helped West Indies recover from a shaky 168 for six at the start of the final 10 overs of the innings, after they were sent in to bat on a hard, true Kensington Oval pitch.
Chris Gayle gave the innings a typically belligerent start, when he blasted three fours and five sixes in 46 from 39 balls in an opening stand of 72 with Lendl Simmons. But West Indies lost their way, after Gayle was caught behind off Stuart Broad in 13th over skying an upper cut into the waiting gloves of Matt Prior. West Indies slipped to 83 for three in the 16th over before Denesh Ramdin joined Shivnarine Chanderpaul and arrested the slide with a stand of 43 for the fourth wicket.
Ramdin was caught at mid-on in the 27th over to trigger another flurry of wickets which saw West Indies sink to 145 for six in the 35th over before Bravo’s late charge beefed-up the total.
The match also marked the final international appearance for umpire Steve Bucknor of Jamaica. He has stood in 124 Tests and 181 ODIs.
He completed a lap of honour, following the game to accept the appreciation of the capacity crowd which applauded him for nearly two decades of umpiring at the top.