England dismiss West Indies for 55 as T20 World Cup campaign begins with resounding win

·28-min read
Adil Rashid of England celebrates the wicket of Obed McCoy of West Indies with team mate Jonny Bairstow during the ICC Men's T20 World Cup match between England and Windies at Dubai International Stadium on October 23, 2021 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.  - GETTY IMAGES
Adil Rashid of England celebrates the wicket of Obed McCoy of West Indies with team mate Jonny Bairstow during the ICC Men's T20 World Cup match between England and Windies at Dubai International Stadium on October 23, 2021 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. - GETTY IMAGES

This was a rematch of the last World Cup final, the most famous T20 match yet played. In its own way, it offered up something almost as extraordinary: the complete disintegration of a who’s who of T20 royalty, as one of the most fearsome T20 batting line-ups assembled turned to dust.

The West Indies had only needed four balls to score their last 24 runs in Kolkata five years ago and so seal the T20 World Cup. On a sweltering evening in Dubai, their entire innings only added up to 55, thanks to a cocktail of a bowling performance that approached T20 perfection and an egregious batting display. If England did not quite match their perfection with the bat, they still eviscerated the West Indies by six wickets with 11.4 overs to spare.

It is true that England could play the West Indies another 100 times in the format and never have a day where everything unfolded without hitch. Yet it is also true that England’s victory was the product of fine plans brilliantly executed. Moeen Ali opening the bowling was a ploy to trouble the West Indies’s left-handers, and get through what appeared England’s weakest link. Sixteen of his 24 deliveries were to left-handers, as he bowled out by the end of the seventh over for the first time ever while dismissing Lendl Simmons and Shimron Hetmyer.

Tymal Mills was brought on in the sixth over because, as England’s quickest bowler, he was the one best-suited to exploiting the vulnerabilities that Gayle has acquired aged 42; he duly dismissed Gayle, who was early on a pull shot. Just as Moeen was saved for left-handers, so Adil Rashid could now be saved for right-handers. He clean bowled Andre Russell, perhaps the most feared T20 batsman in the world, with a slider from his first ball, and wrapped up the innings with figures of 4-2.

Most of team sport is an exercise in teammates making up for each other's shortcomings, especially in a format as volatile as T20. But just occasionally - a couple of times in a career, perhaps - a captain will have a day in which everything just clicks.

Tymal Mills of England celebrates the wicket of Nicholas Pooran of West Indies with team mate Jos Buttler during the ICC Men's T20 World Cup match between England and Windies at Dubai International Stadium on October 23, 2021 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. - GETTY IMAGES
Tymal Mills of England celebrates the wicket of Nicholas Pooran of West Indies with team mate Jos Buttler during the ICC Men's T20 World Cup match between England and Windies at Dubai International Stadium on October 23, 2021 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. - GETTY IMAGES

“It's as good as it gets,” Eoin Morgan said. “To start our campaign like that, all credit to our bowling unit. The guys were very disciplined, and we took our chances. I think Moeen Ali read the conditions beautifully, he took chances when his match-up was in his favour, and to take his opportunity like he has, after the success he's had in the IPL was brilliant.”

The most significant performance in shaping the course of this game came from Moeen. England’s great fear before this game had been what damage the West Indies could inflict upon their fifth bowler; by the end of the seventh over, Moeen had bowled out and taken 2-17. For his control and discipline bowling during the Powerplay, allied to a wonderful catch running back from mid-off to dismiss Evin Lewis and snare England’s first wicket, Moeen was named player of the match, following on from winning the IPL with Chennai Super Kings.

The excellence of Moeen and Rashid was matched by the three-pronged seam attack. Chris Woakes, playing only his third T20 international since 2015, delivered the new ball incisiveness he was selected when he snared Evin Lewis with a slower ball from his third delivery. Chris Jordan needed only two deliveries to take his own wicket, as a cut from his Dwayne Bravo was snaffled by Jonny Bairstow at backward point.

In between times, Mills made his reentry to international cricket, four years after his last match for England. In the years since, Mills has battled interminable injuries; he began the year wearing a back brace for three months. Dismissing Gayle with his sixth delivery, well caught by Dawid Malan at short midwicket, was glorious reward.

England's Moeen Ali (C) celebrates after taking the wicket of West Indies' Shimron Hetmyer (not pictured) during the ICC mens Twenty20 World Cup cricket match between England and West Indies at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium in Dubai on October 23, 2021.  - GETTY IMAGES
England's Moeen Ali (C) celebrates after taking the wicket of West Indies' Shimron Hetmyer (not pictured) during the ICC mens Twenty20 World Cup cricket match between England and West Indies at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium in Dubai on October 23, 2021. - GETTY IMAGES

As the West Indies innings descended into surreal farce, Eoin Morgan devised a new role for Mills. He is renowned for his unique death bowling style, but was here used in another role: as a mid-innings enforcer, unsettling the West Indies with short lengths and relentless hostility in the absence of Mark Wood, who missed out as a precaution because of an injury to his left ankle. When Mills found a fuller length, Nicholas Pooran slashed him behind.

For the West Indies, this was a batting display of collective ignominy of the ilk seldom seen in T20. Their hold over the format, and two World Cups in the last three editions, have been underpinned by an unparalleled ability to clear the ropes. Here there was a lack of selectivity in their approach - Lendl Simmons, for instance, was caught on the midwicket boundary in the third over hitting to the longer side of the boundary - on a wicket that was less conducive to big hitting. But really the simplest explanation for what transpired was that this was an aberration. “A game like this you sort of forget,” said West Indies skipper Kieron Pollard.

While the West Indies did manage the consolation of four wickets in England’s response, this owed much to England’s helter-skelter approach, in pursuit of giving their net run rate the strongest boost, which meant Dawid Malan, who retained his place, did not bat at all. When Jos Buttler pulled Kieron Pollard for four, it completed the seventh shortest T20 in history.

The victory margin gives England a comfort blanket for the weeks ahead in case qualification from Group 1 will ultimately be determined by net run rate. But on this evidence, they will not need it.

England vs West Indies, as it happened:

04:59 PM

That's all from me...

But read the above report for a full recap of a remarkable match of cricket.

04:47 PM

West Indies captain Kieron Pollard speaks

"It’s not something that we’re proud of - getting bowled out for 50-odd as an international team is unacceptable."

04:39 PM

This could be very important as the tournament develops

04:30 PM

Two low-scoring matches to start the Super 12s stage of this tournament

04:28 PM

It was a historically bad performance from the West Indies

04:24 PM

England win by six wickets!

And with more than 10 overs to spare.

04:23 PM

OVER 9: ENG 56/4 (Morgan 7* Buttler 24*)

Pollard brings himself into the attack. He starts a tad short and Buttler cuts him away for two. A bouncer follows and Buttler pulls it for four! That is that!

04:22 PM

Here is the stunning caught and bowled by Hosein

04:21 PM

OVER 8: ENG 50/4 (Morgan 7* Buttler 18*)

McCoy continues, Buttlers run him down to third man for one. The ball is banged in at Morgan who drops into the leg side for a quick single. Buttler hands him back the strike and Morgan takes on the pull shot, just beating the man in the deep who got a touch on it in the air.

McCoy goes short again and Morgan goes to hook it, missing the ball.

04:16 PM

OVER 7: ENG 43/4 (Morgan 2* Buttler 16*)

England are making this tiny chase look rather difficult. In comes captain Morgan, desperately in need of some form. He gets off the mark with a single. Hosein drops short and Buttler cuts him away for one. Morgan takes one once more. Buttler cuts away for another single. A dot ball concludes a tremendous bowling spell from Hosein.

04:12 PM

WICKET! Livingstone c & b Hosein 1

That is a stunning catch! Livingstone gets a leading edge and Hosein leaps to take a one-handed diving catch. Stunning fielding from the spinner. The third umpire just wants to check he did not use the turf to keep it in his hand. After an age it remains out.

FOW: 39/4

04:08 PM

OVER 7: ENG 39/3 (Livingstone 1* Buttler 14*)

Hosein will bowl his fourth and final over. Slip and a silly point in place.

04:06 PM

OVER 6: ENG 39/3 (Livingstone 1* Buttler 14*)

Livingstone is in, also ahead of Malan. Buttler is on strike. He attempts a scoop but is done by a slower ball. It is a front-foot no-ball, however. Free hit. McCoy goes for another slower ball and Buttler shanks it out into the leg side for one.

Livingstone gets off the mark with a single into the off side. A dot ball finishes a good over from the West Indies.

That is the powerplay done.

04:02 PM

WICKET! Moeen run out (Lewis) 3

Buttler then drops the ball behind square, he shouts no but Moeen runs anyway. He scrambles back but cannot make it in time. Waste of a wicket.

04:02 PM

OVER 6: ENG 36/2 (Moeen 3* Buttler 13*)

Left-arm quick McCoy is into the attack. Buttler cuts him away for two.

04:00 PM

OVER 5: ENG 34/2 (Moeen 3* Buttler 11*)

Moeen is now in as England slide down Malan - they are trying to get this done quickly. He blocks his first two balls before clipping the ball around the corner for two. A single follows. Buttler does the same, he keeps the strike.

03:56 PM

WICKET! Bairstow c & b Hosein 9

Bairstow is too early on the ball and chips it back to the bowler.

FOW: 30/2

03:54 PM

OVER 4: ENG 30/1 (Bairstow 9* Buttler 10*)

Jonny Bairstow is in at three, not the much-maligned Dawid Malan... he blocks his first ball. Rampaul over-pitches and Bairstow drives the ball back past the bowler for four. Another four follows, this time crunched through the covers. He then clips a single into the leg side, retaining the strike.

03:50 PM

WICKET! Roy c Gayle b Rampaul 11

Rampaul deceives Roy with a slower ball and the England opener chips it to mid-wicket. Nicely bowled.

FOW: 21/1

03:49 PM

OVER 3: ENG 21/0 (Roy 11* Buttler 10*)

Hosein will continue at the other end. Roy launches a six over extra cover. That went plenty of rows back into the stands! He takes one the following ball. A misfield hands Roy back the strike. Hosein drops short and Roy strokes it out to deep cover for one. Buttler flicks a single into the leg side. Roy takes another single to pinch the strike.

03:43 PM

OVER 2: ENG 10/0 (Roy 2* Buttler 8*)

Rampaul will open from the other end. He starts with a nice line and length, Roy blocks it. He comes down the track to the next ball, getting a thick edge towards point for no run.

A single out to long-on gives Buttler the strike. Buttler drives on the up through the covers for four. He looks to be in great touch.

03:38 PM

OVER 1: ENG 5/0 (Roy 1* Buttler 4*)

Hosein, the left-arm spinner, will open for the West Indies. They have a short leg and a slip in place.

Roy pushes the ball into the offside, no run. A push out to long-on gets England off the mark. Buttler blocks his first ball before crunching the ball through extra cover for four. Sumptuous.

Buttler drives again, this time he does not beat the man in the ring. An arm ball that is blocked concludes the first over.

03:32 PM

The players are back out on the pitch

Roy and Buttler opening for England.

03:28 PM

England will want to get this done quickly

Net run-rate could be important, especially in this group. England will want to knock those off as quickly as possible.

03:27 PM

2.8 runs an over required...

Detailed view of the scoreboard showing England need 56 to win during the ICC Men's T20 World Cup match between England and Windies at Dubai International Stadium on October 23, 2021 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.  - GETTY IMAGES
Detailed view of the scoreboard showing England need 56 to win during the ICC Men's T20 World Cup match between England and Windies at Dubai International Stadium on October 23, 2021 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. - GETTY IMAGES

03:15 PM

England will need 56 to win (yes, 56)

That was a remarkable innings on many levels. A word for England's fielding, which was superb including a number of terrific catches.

03:14 PM

WICKET! Rampaul b Rashid 3

Rampaul tries an expansive slog sweep and is clean bowled. A poor end to a woeful innings.

FOW: 54 ao

03:14 PM

OVER 14: WI 54/9 (Rampaul 3* Hosein 5*)

Rashid begins his third over with figures of 3-2 so far. He starts with a googly that beats Rampaul.

03:13 PM

OVER 13: WI 54/9 (Rampaul 3* Hosein 5*)

Mills starts his final over. Rampaul pushes a single down to third man. Hosein latches onto a short and wide ball, carving it away for two. Good response from Mills, who draws a play and miss. Hosein gets off strike and the Mills beats Rampaul for pace.

Rampaul will keep the strike.

England have bowled a staggering 57 dot balls this innings.

03:08 PM

OVER 12: WI 50/9 (Rampaul 1* Hosein 3*)

Rashid draws a play and miss from Rampaul! So close to the hat-trick. Rampaul then clips one off his pad, 50 up for West Indies! Ironic cheers go up.

An unconvincing block concludes the over.

03:06 PM

WICKET! McCoy c Roy b Rashid 0

Oh dear. McCoy plays the same shot as Pollard, picking out Roy on the boundary. Terrible batting. Rashid is on a hat-trick!

FOW: 49/7

03:04 PM

WICKET! Pollard c Bairstow b Rashid 6

Rashid continues. Pollard tries to park the ball into the stands but just picks out Bairstow on the boundary. Poor shot.

FOW: 49/7

03:02 PM

A stat for West Indies fans in need of hope

03:02 PM

OVER 12: WI 49/7 (Pollard 6* Hosein 3*)

West Indies need Pollard to face as many balls as possible for the remainder of the innings. Hosein is on strike to Mills.

The ball is banged in short and Hosein plinks it into the leg side for one. Pollard hands him back the strike. Another single follows. And another. Hosein nearly chops a slower ball onto his stumps. An lbw appeal ends the over but there was a thin edge on it.

Four from the over.

02:57 PM

OVER 11: WI 45/7 (Pollard 4* Hosein 1*)

Hosein plays out his first ball, and his second. He does not look overly confident against Rashid. Two more dots follow.

A single ends the over.

02:54 PM

WICKET! Russell b Rashid 0

Rashid is into the attack for the first time and cleans up Russell. It is the slider which nips back and hits middle stump.

FOW: 44/7

02:52 PM

Tymal Mills is making some impression

02:50 PM

OVER 10: WI 44/6 (Pollard 4* Russell 0*)

Jordan continues. Pollard flicks him for a well ran two. Jordan responds well, nipping the ball back into the pads of Pollard. And repeat, this time an lbw shout goes up. Looks like there was an inside edge. Not out and no review comes.

Jordan hits Pollard on the pad for a third successive delivery. Pollard pushes the ball into the offside for no run. A bouncer, which if left, ends a superb over.

02:46 PM

OVER 9: WI 42/6 (Pollard 2* Russell 0*)

There is still one ball remaining in this very long over. The very dangerous Andre Russell is on strike. Russell goes after his first ball, playing and missing.

02:45 PM

WICKET! Pooran c Buttler b Mills 1

Mills gets it right this time. He goes full and gets an outside edge off Pooran through to the keeper. England are all over the Windies.

FOW: 42/6

02:44 PM

OVER 9: WI 42/5 (Pollard 2* Pooran 1*)

Mills returns to the attack. His first ball is a wide outside off stump. Pollard then clips a single out to fine leg. Mills attempts a back of the hand slower ball which slides down the leg side for another wide.

Pooran pushes a length ball back to the bowler. No run. He then chases a wider delivery, playing and missing. A bouncer, which is left alone, follows. A third wide of the over happens from another slower ball down leg. Mills will not be happy with this.

02:38 PM

Hope is not necessarily lost for the West Indies

02:38 PM

OVER 8: WI 38/5 (Pollard 1* Pooran 1*)

West Indies are not out of this yet. Pollard is in now and they still have a certain Andre Russell in the hutch. They desperately need a partnership, however.

Pollard survives his first ball, and blocks his second. Jordan bangs it in and Pollard attempts a pull shot but the ball fails to leave the strip. Pollard gets off the mark from the final ball of the over.

02:35 PM

WICKET! Bravo c Bairstow b Jordan 5

The collapse continues! Bravo chips the ball to Bairstow in the ring who takes a simple catch at point. What is going on?

FOW: 37/5

02:33 PM

OVER 8: WI 37/4 (Bravo 5* Pooran 1*)

Chris Jordan is into the attack - and he is greeted with a boundary by Bravo over point.

02:32 PM

OVER 7: WI 33/4 (Bravo 1* Pooran 1*)

England have dominated the powerplay. Moeen will bowl his fourth successive over. He starts with three dots to the new batsman Pooran. The fourth delivery is pulled for a single. Bravo gets off the mark with a single the following ball.

A dot ends as stunning spell from Moeen - 2/17. What a player he is.

02:30 PM

View from the ground

Sensational start for England. The real worry for England was how much their fifth bowler - shared between Moeen Ali and Liam Livingstone - would concede against the West Indies. But Moeen has already got through three of his overs, taking 2-15 - and he's about to be bowled out.

By Tim Wigmore

02:28 PM

WICKET! Gayle c b Mills 13

England have a fourth in the powerplay! Mills bangs it in and Gayle tries to pull it but the ball balloons in the air. Malan takes a good catch back-pedalling towards the ball.

FOW: 31/4

02:27 PM

OVER 6: WI 31/3 (Bravo 0* Gayle 13*)

Tymal Mills will bowl the final ball of the powerplay. A misfield happens but Gayle cannot get off strike. He tries to launch the next ball over the covers but misses it by a distance. A slower ball follows which Gayle can only block.

A quicker ball, 88mph, beats Gayle all ends up. This is good from Mills.

Gayle gets one away, rocking onto the back foot and hitting over the offside field. Four runs.

02:23 PM

OVER 5: WI 27/3 (Bravo 0* Gayle 9*)

This is a surprise. Bravo is in, he was carded to come in at no 8! Ludicrous amount of experience now at the crease.

Two dot balls finish another successful over.

02:22 PM

WICKET! Hetmyer c Morgan b Moeen 9

Moeen drags it down and Hetmyer tries to climb into the ball. He gets nothing of it, picking out Morgan at mid-on. Disastrous start for the West Indies.

FOW: 27/3

02:21 PM

OVER 5: WI 27/2 (Hetmyer 9* Gayle 9*)

Moeen will bowl a third successive over. Hetmyer dances down the track to his first ball, hitting over mid-wicket for four. He does the same the next ball, but this time over extra cover. Top batting. West Indies generating some momentum now.

Hetmyer blocks the third ball of the over.

02:18 PM

OVER 4: WI 19/2 (Hetmyer 1* Gayle 9*)

Woakes continues. Gayle drives the ball handsomely through extra-cover for four. Crisp timing. He then bangs it in a touch short and Gayle smokes it through the offside for another four. Roy could not quite get to it at backward point.

Gayle chips the ball but it lands short of short extra cover. A respectful block follows. A rare quick single from Gayle follows. Hetmyer gets off the mark with a push into the offside, keeping the strike.

02:14 PM

OVER 3: WI 9/2 (Hetmyer 0* Gayle 0*)

Left-handed Hetmyer joins left-handed Gayle at the crease. He blocks his first three deliveries from Moeen. The next ball is fired in a touch quicker, clipping the pads of Hetmyer. No run.

Wicket maiden for Moeen!

02:11 PM

WICKET! Simmons c Livingstone b Moeen 3

Simmons comes down the track and hits the ball straight down the throat of Livingstone at deep mid-wicket. Not great batting. England on top!

FOW: 9/2

02:10 PM

OVER 3: WI 9/1 (Simmons 3* Gayle 0*)

Moeen continues. He starts with a dot to Simmons.

02:09 PM

OVER 2: WI 9/1 (Simmons 3* Gayle 0*)

Out strides the 'Universe Boss' Chris Gayle, in his new role at no 3. It is Simmons on strike, however, and he flicks a single off his pads.

Gayle plays his first ball tentatively to backward point. No run. He leaves his second well alone.

Great start from Woakes.

02:07 PM

WICKET! Lewis c Moeen b Woakes 6

Woakes bowls a slower ball and Lewis does not pick it. He tries to hit the ball down the ground and gets underneath it. Moeen runs back and takes a superb catch over his shoulder. Great start for England.

FOW: 8/1

02:06 PM

OVER 2: WI 8/0 (Simmons 2* Lewis 6*)

Chris Woakes will open from the other end. It is his job to try and take powerplay wickets.

His first delivery is clipped for one by Simmons. Woakes finds a good line to Lewis who blocks it. No lateral movement as of yet.

02:03 PM

OVER 1: WI 7/0 (Simmons 1* Lewis 6*)

It is indeed spin, in the shape of Moeen Ali, to start. England take the knee ahead of play alongside the West Indies.

His first ball is respectfully blocked by Simmons. A second dot ball follows. Simmons gets off the mark with a push into the leg side for one. Left-handed Lewis blocks his first ball, just like his partner did. Moeen drops short but gets away with it - another dot.

Lewis lofts the ball over Moeen's head for six! He made that look very, very easy.

01:58 PM

Play is minutes away

Simmons and Lewis are making their way to the middle. Simmons is wearing a cap so it must be spin to start...

01:56 PM

Mark Wood is injured

He has picked up a knock and does not make England's side. That could be a big blow, especially with Jofra Archer already unavailable.

01:55 PM

The national anthems are under way

West Indies edge the anthems...

01:48 PM

And here is the powerful and experienced West Indies line-up

  1. Evin Lewis

  2. Lendl Simmons

  3. Chris Gayle

  4. Shimron Hetmyer

  5. Nicholas Pooran (wk)

  6. Kieron Pollard (c)

  7. Andre Russell

  8. Dwayne Bravo

  9. Akeal Hosein

  10. Obed McCoy

  11. Ravi Rampaul

01:37 PM

Toss and team news - England to bowl first

Dawid Malan keeps his place at number three. Crucially, England will bat last - aided, it would appear, by the dew.

12:26 PM

England must overcome key absences to seal historic double

No side in history have ever held the men’s ODI and T20 World Cups aloft simultaneously. Over the next three weeks, Eoin Morgan’s England have the chance to seal a unique double and, in the process, put the seal on the revolution that was forged from the detritus of the 2015 50-over World Cup, writes Tim Wigmore.

As England completed their final training at the ICC Academy, in preparation for Saturday's tournament opener against the West Indies, it was extraordinary to reflect on how much has changed since these two sides met in the denouement to the last T20 World Cup. When Carlos Brathwaite’s fireworks lit up the Kolkata night sky, in April 2016, T20 was a few months shy of being a teenager – a format still, in spite of its burgeoning popularity, working itself out.

As the main stages of the T20 World Cup return, 67 months later, T20 has reached full adulthood. Any certain diffidence that the format once felt, any need to prove that it was just as serious a business as the longer versions of the game, has long been shaken off.

Yes, T20 was designed by a marketing survey to be fun, and it remains that. But it is also a fiercely contested, cut-throat elite sport. Indeed, a combination of the youth of the format and the impact of forensic, data-driven analysis means that you could make a serious case that T20 is evolving at a faster rate than any other major game. A small measure of this eternal flux is that Brathwaite, who has only just turned 33 and is at full fitness, returns to the World Cup as a commentator rather than a player.

This World Cup – extended by a year due to Covid-19 – will be defined by trends that have developed since the tournament in India five years ago. In the life cycle of T20, that is ample time both for new tactics to thrive, and for new tactics to counter these. Consider how the rise of leg-spin since 2016 has seen the development of spin-hitters to attack these type of bowlers in the middle overs, and, in turn, of rapid pace bowlers – enforcers – used to combat these spin-hitters.

Even the language of the game has changed, with teams and commentators alike preoccupied by match-ups, the concept of matching your strengths in a certain area to an opponent’s weaknesses. It was once thought that T20 would remain the little brother of the cricket family; instead, it is now better thought of as a distant cousin.

England were initially slow to recognise as much. But England’s wonderful run to the T20 World Cup final in 2016 – the first indication of what Morgan’s new approach could achieve on a global stage – and the board’s new embrace of overseas T20 leagues have made English players among the most coveted on the global T20 circuit. All of England’s 15-man squad now have at least some Indian Premier League experience, which Morgan identified as one of the biggest causes for optimism. “You see guys going to the Big Bash or the IPL, and not going there to just be another player, but going there with ambitions of being the best in the tournament,” he said. “I think they’ve learnt more about their own game.

“They’ve had more clarity and experience, they’ve had more failures, they’ve had more success, they’ve experienced different tournaments around the world.”

Despite the rapidly changing nature of the format, there is a striking continuity to England’s core, which includes eight members of their 2016 campaign and nine members of their ODI World Cup success in 2019. Rather than indicating stasis, this lack of shift reflects how England’s embrace of a buccaneering style in white-ball cricket six years ago was ahead of the curve.

But if Morgan is to join MS Dhoni as the sole man to captain a victorious team in both the ODI and T20 World Cups, the side will need to be smart, too. England have the power to clear 200 with ease when conditions are right, but the IPL and the first stage indicates that 150 will often prove a winning total.

“The side who adapts to all three venues the best throughout this tournament will go on and win,” Morgan said. “We’ve shown that we can get 200 or maybe more, and also play in the dogfight game – the 130 or 140 game.”

The absences of Jofra Archer and Ben Stokes help explain why, despite their formidable batting line-up, England cannot quite be considered favourites: that tag falls to India, with their abundance of batting and bowling options and abundant IPL experience. The West Indies, whose focus on six-hitting rather than minimising dot balls has redefined the sport, are not far behind either. If a winner is to emerge from beyond this trio, Pakistan, who have excellent bowling and a side well-suited to lower-scoring games, are the most compelling option. No World Cup would be complete without a “group of death”.

England, emphatically, have landed themselves in it – with Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, who both have varied bowling attacks well-suited to conditions, qualifying for Group 1 from the first stage. They will join the West Indies, South Africa and Australia – who have seldom arrived at a global event looking so far short of the pace – as England’s opponents. Four victories from the five group games would make a side almost certain to reach the semi-finals, but it would be little surprise if several teams ended up with three wins and two defeats, and progression was determined on net run rate. England, rightly, will consider that their quality means that they should avoid having to worry about such permutations. And yet, for all the science in the sport, T20 remains the most volatile format.

It is a game in which one outstanding performance or simply luck – in this tournament, the toss, with fears that dew will favour chasing teams in day-night games – can have an outsized impact. That the best team does not always win, and the uncertainty this provides, is at the heart of T20’s global appeal.

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