Anxious England hold off stirring West Indies fightback to level T20 series

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Moeen Ali took three wickets in England’s narrow victory (PA). (PA Wire)
Moeen Ali took three wickets in England’s narrow victory (PA). (PA Wire)

England withstood a late blitz from Romario Shepherd and Akeal Hosein to draw level in their Twenty20 series against the West Indies after a nervy one-run victory.

The tourists were hammered by nine wickets in the series opener 24 hours earlier but, having set the Windies 172 to win, Moeen Ali took format-best figures of three for 24 after Adil Rashid snared Kieron Pollard and Darren Bravo.

That saw the Windies crumble from 47 for two to 65 for seven and should have been decisive, but some formidable power hitting from Shepherd and Hosein in an unbroken 72-run stand from just 29 balls frayed English nerves.

The equation came down to 30 from the last over and, while England ensured their 171 for eight could not be overhauled without a no-ball or wide before the climax, Hosein closed the show with three successive sixes.

He finished on 44 not out from 16 balls, a terrific innings after coming in at number 10, while highly-rated all-rounder Shepherd was also unbeaten on 44 as the Windies claimed more than a shred of comfort from defeat.

Jason Roy top-scored for England with 45 from 31 balls – more than half his runs coming from one Fabian Allen over – while Moeen added a sketchy 31 and Chris Jordan a cameo 27 on the ground where he spent a lot of his childhood.

After losing the toss for the second day in a row, England drew a line under being skittled for 103, with the Windies this time left to rue a floundering top order.

Brandon King made an unbeaten half-century on Saturday but departed for a duck here, with Reece Topley finding some early shape to beat the inside edge and rap the pad, while the left-armer reacted quickly to sweep his palm over the ball and run out the scampering Shai Hope.

Topley should have had another wicket but Liam Dawson spilled a steepler, having not settled under the ball, to reprieve Nicholas Pooran, who alongside Bravo steadied the hosts from six for two.

However, Pooran miscued a long hop in Moeen’s first over to James Vince, running in from the deep midwicket boundary, to fall for 24.

Pooran’s dismissal sparked a collapse that saw the Windies lose five wickets for 18 runs. Rashid, who earlier conceded 13 in his opening over, with Bravo slamming a one-handed straight six, bounced back to outmanoeuvre Pollard, rapped on the pad after missing a swipe, with the not out decision overturned on review.

Bravo fell for 23 in identical circumstances, with England once again successful in querying the umpire’s initial call, while Moeen took a sharp return catch off Jason Holder before Odean Smith was caught on the boundary rope.

While Dawson was carted for a couple of sixes by Shepherd, there was no sense a comeback was on the cards until the 18th over, when Jordan conceded three sixes and threw in a wide to heighten the tension.

England still held the ace card and Topley, making his first T20 appearance in six years, delivered an uneventful penultimate over, but Saqib Mahmood was fortunate his first legal delivery of the 20th over was not signalled a wide.

Hosein flogged three sixes and two fours from the last five deliveries but it proved too little, too late.

After their opening night capitulation, it was unsurprising Roy showed some initial restraint earlier on, deferring to Tom Banton, whose orthodox and reverse sweeps saw England make a steady, if unspectacular, start.

They were dealt a double blow in the final over the powerplay, though, when both Banton and Vince were snared by Allen.

Banton departed for 25 after powerfully driving into Allen’s midriff, the bowler holding on, while the slow left-armer produced a beauty to kiss the top of Vince’s off-stump, although the Windies were unable to capitalise after Moeen had two reprieves in the deep.

Darren Bravo was perhaps unsighted by the sun, but Pooran shelled a sitter.

At 64 for two at halfway, the runs were trickling rather gushing, so Roy, becalmed in getting to 17 off 23 deliveries, cast off the shackles by slog sweeping into the stands and then clubbing straight out the ground, also collecting three fours in Allen’s final over which yielded 24 runs as he finished with 4-0-50-2.

Roy departed after dragging a wider delivery to long-on, Moeen reached out to get a toe-end to short third immediately after dispatching Pollard over deep midwicket, while Sam Billings made his second successive single figure score this weekend after top-edging a sweep as 101 for two became 116 for five.

But Jordan for the second day in a row was enterprising after coming to the crease, clearing the longer extra cover boundary with a sumptuous hit as he added some late impetus to proceedings, helping England to 150 and beyond as they added 107 in their final 10 overs.

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