Windies go down in exciting finale

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, CMC – West Indies failed in their bid to complete a clean sweep, as England held their nerve to record a consolation victory, in an exciting finale to their three-match Twenty20 Intern-ational series here yesterday. Set a challenging but achievable 166 to win, West Indies were propelled by Lendl Simmons who top scored with 69 and wicketkeeper Denesh Ramdin who got 33, as the finished five runs short of their target at Kensington Oval.

They required 17 from a nerve-jangling last over but despite a six from West Indies captain Darren Sammy (15 not out), the hosts just failed to get over the line, with six needed from the last delivery.

Ironically, Barbados-born seamer Christopher Jordan proved to be England’s hero, snatching three for 39 from his four overs, including the crucial wicket of Ramdin in the penultimate over.

The spell followed up his explosive unbeaten 27 as England rallied 165 for six after winning the toss and opting to bat first in great conditions.

Opener Michael Lumb smashed 63 and partner Alex Hales chipped in with 38, in a 98-run stand off 65 balls, but England fell away badly at the end as the left-arm Jamaican seam duo of Krishmar Santokie (2-27) and debutant Sheldon Cottrell (2-37) picked up two wickets apiece.

Jordan then belted four sixes off seamer Dwayne Bravo’s last over which cost 26 runs, to rally England at the death.

West Indies had the worst possible start when Dwayne Smith chopped on to the first ball of the innings from pacer Jade Dernbach and Johnson Charles followed for four in the next over, when he got a leading edge back to Jordan.

Marlon Samuels looked in superb form, stroking three fours off Dernbach’s second over, the third of the innings, in scoring 15 off 13 balls. His fireworks were short-lived, however, as he dragged on to Jordan, leaving the Windies precariously perched at 28 for three in the fifth over.

Simmons combined with captain Bravo (16) to repair the innings with a 38-run, fourth wicket stand, until Bravo became the first of Ravi Bopara’s two wickets.

Andre Russell lasted two balls before slogging Bopara to cover without scoring at 67 for five but Simmons and Ramdin sensibly went about their business, adding 73 for the sixth wicket.

Simmons faced 55 balls and hit seven fours and two sixes while Ramdin struck four fours and a six off 21 balls. Both fell with the charge on at the end and Sammy’s efforts at heroism proved futile this time.

Earlier, England were given a rousing start by Lumb and Hales, as the West Indies bowlers wilted under early pressure. Cottrell, especially, came in for a hiding in the day’s second over which cost 17 runs, with Lumb helping himself to four boundaries as he capitalised on loose bowling.

Fellow Jamaican Santokie felt the pinch next over, conceding 16 runs, as Hales gathered off-side boundaries from the first two deliveries before clearing the ropes with a clean straight hit.

Captain Darren Sammy quickly turned to mystery off-spinner Sunil Narine but he fared no better, leaking 14 runs. Lumb swept his third delivery for four, dispatched the fourth over the square leg boundary before edging the fifth for another four, as England raised their fifty of just 23 balls.

Sammy wrung the changes to good effect with the next six overs costing just 44 runs, building pressure and forcing Lumb to sky one from Cottrell to Bravo on the off-side.

The Windies struck again 11 balls later when the dangerous Hales found Simmons in the deep at the end of the 13th over, giving Cottrell his second wicket off the final delivery of his four-over spell.

Captain Eoin Morgan smashed a four and a six in gathering 18 from 17 balls but his innings was cut short when he holed out to Smith at deep mid-wicket off Narine in the 16th over.

Santokie then crippled England with a lethal double strike in the next over, first having Jos Buttler (3) skying to Sammy on the off-side and two balls later, removing Ben Stokes’s middle stump with a clever slower ball before the batsman had scored.

Slumping badly at 129 for five, England were thrown further into turmoil when Moeen Ali was run out at the start of the 19th over, courtesy of sharp work by Santokie on the follow through.

Jordan, who has played first class cricket for Barbados, then produced a whirlwind cameo to lift England.

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