MANCHESTER, England, CMC – West Indies’ dismal One-Day International form continued with a seven-wicket defeat to England in the critical opener at Old Trafford here yesterday, a result that condemned the Caribbean side to a 10-team qualifying tournament in order to reach the 2019 Cricket World Cup.
Needing to sweep the five-match series in order to achieve direct qualification for the showpiece, West Indies put themselves under pressure when they could only muster 203 for nine in the contest reduced to 42 overs per side following a two-hour delayed start due to a wet outfield.
Captain Jason Holder top-scored with an unbeaten 41 off 33 deliveries while opener Chris Gayle, in his first ODI in two years, belted a typically aggressive 37 off 27 balls.
Stylish right-hander Shai Hope carved out an attractive 35 while Rovman Powell got 23, but no other Windies batsman passed 20.
As expected, England made light work of the target, coasting home in the 31st over with Jonny Bairstow celebrating his promotion the top of the order with 100 not out – his maiden ODI century.
Test captain Joe Root chipped in with a polished 54 while all-rounder Ben Stokes arrived at the end to help formalise the result with a cameo unbeaten 23 off 15 balls.
The defeat was the 16th in the last 21 ODIs for West Indies and their 12th loss in their last 17 outings to England.
West Indies, two-time former World champions, will now battle minnows Ireland, Afghanistan and Zimbabwe, along with four teams from the ICC World Cricket League Championship and another two from the ICC World Cricket League Division Two, in a tournament next year in order to reach the World Cup.
Opting to bat first, West Indies were given a rousing start by Gayle and Evin Lewis (11) who put on 45 off 33 deliveries.
The left-handed Gayle, dropped at second slip by Root off the third ball of the innings from pacer Chris Woakes before he had scored, looked in great touch, smashing two fours and three straight sixes to dominate the stand.
However, Lewis pulled a long hop from Moeen Ali to Alex Hales at square leg in the off-spinner’s first over, and Gayle followed 20 balls later with 10 runs added when he holed out to deep mid-off to a brilliant running catch by Root off Woakes.
Hope stroked five boundaries as he consolidated in a 50-run, third wicket partnership with Marlon Samuels before he too perished softly, whipping an ordinary delivery from seamer Stokes off his hip to be caught at square leg by Bairstow in the 24th over.
Samuels, who consumed 46 balls in making a boundary-less 17, departed 12 balls later at 107 for four in the 26th over brushing a leg-side catch behind off Stokes.
Powell and Jason Mohammed (18) then propped up the innings by adding a run-a-ball 42 for the fifth wicket but once they were separated, West Indies lost five wickets for 53 runs to decline.
It was left to Holder to wag the tail, the right-hander thumping five fours to push his side beyond the 200-run mark.
Stokes finished with three for 43 while leg-spinner Adil Rashid (2-31) and Woakes (2-41) picked up two wickets apiece.
Requiring a strong opening burst, the Windies claimed Alex Hales cheaply for 19 when Lewis held a juggling catch at point off seamer Jerome Taylor with the score on 31 for one in the fifth over.
However, the joy was short-lived as Bairstow and Root came together in a 125-run, second wicket stand which killed off the Windies hopes of a victory.
All told, Bairstow faced 97 balls and counted 11 fours in a well-paced knock, reaching his landmark in the last over of the game with a punch to deep over off off-spinner Ashley Nurse for three runs.
Root meanwhile, struck four boundaries off 53 balls before chopping on to seamer Kesrick Williams (2-50) in the 24th over and captain Eoin Morgan’s lean run continued when he nicked one behind off the same bowler three overs later, to perish for 10.
But Stokes provided a swift end to the encounter, lashing a four and a pair of sixes – the last of which sealed the rout for the hosts.