Root, Woakes avert collapse as England seal series

England 226 for 6 (Root 90*, Woakes 68*, Nurse 3-34) beat West Indies 225 (Mohammed 50, Plunkett 3-32) by four wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Joe Root’s unbeaten 90 anchored England’s run chase © Getty Images

England’s limited-overs resurgence may have been built upon aggressive batting but it was, for the second game in succession, their calm under pressure that led them to victory in Antigua.

With their side reeling against a familiar foe – spin bowling – at 124 for 6 and having just lost 4 for 16, Joe Root and Chris Woakes produced an unbroken seventh-wicket stand of 102 to take England to a four-wicket victory with 10 deliveries remaining. It means England have taken an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match series, with only Thursday’s game in Barbados to come.

This was a far from straightforward win, though. On a two-paced, slow surface that rendered it difficult to time the ball, the batsmen of both sides struggled to dominate.

And, had one of the edges offered by Root (on 0 and 51) gone to hand or Rovman Powell and Jason Holder been able to cling on to relatively straightforward chances offered by Woakes on 42 and 58, things might have been different. But Root’s first edge landed just in front of first slip and his second bisected slip and the keeper, and West Indies sorely missed their premier fast bowler, Shannon Gabriel, who was forced off the pitch with a side strain after three overs of his spell.

It allowed Root and Woakes to play out the spinners, rotate the stroke and pick off the runs. The required run rate never rose close to five an over.

More to follow…

Innings break West Indies 225 (Mohammed 50, Plunkett 3-32) v England
Live scorecard and ball-by-ball details

A desperately slow pitch and a disciplined bowling performance from England restricted West Indies to just 225 in the first innings of the second ODI in Antigua.

West Indies, bowled out with 13 deliveries of their allocation unused, mustered only 15 fours in their entire innings as they struggled to time the ball on the same begrudging and perhaps slightly two-paced surface used for the first ODI. Five batsmen fell to mishits that ballooned catches to the infield.

While the total looked some way under par, England may not find the chase as straightforward as it might first appear. This is a surface that does little to encourage batsmen, bowlers or spectators, so they may need to temper their natural attacking instincts if they are to progress.

West Indies never found a way to conquer the surface. While Evin Lewis showed a flash of his talent, taking successive boundaries off the first over of the innings (a long hop cut for four, followed by a thumping cover drive), Steven Finn removed both him and West Indies’ other aggressive top-order batsman, Kieran Powell, in his opening spell to ensure a cautious start. Lewis was caught off the leading edge as he tried to turn one across the line, while Powell top-edged an attempted pull.

That took Finn to 100 ODI wickets. The tenth England player to reach the landmark, he also became the third quickest (in terms of matches played) after Darren Gough and Stuart Broad, who both reached the milestone in the 62nd match. This was Finn’s 67th.

It could have been even worse for West Indies. England put down a couple of chances of varying difficulty with Eoin Morgan, at mid-on, probably doing well to lay his hand on a ball scooped to his left when Kraigg Brathwaite had scored 3 and Ben Stokes spurning a much easier chance at midwicket when the same batsman had scored 41. It looked, for a moment, as if Stokes may have damaged the second finger on his right hand but, having left the field for treatment, he was soon able to return.

As it was, Kraigg Brathwaite and Jason Mohammed were able to add 72 for the fourth wicket. And while the pace of progress never had England overly concerned – Finn, Chris Woakes and Liam Plunkett all delivered maidens – it was a stand that provided some sort of platform for West Indies. Mohammed hit Adil Rashid and Stokes for sixes over midwicket, while Kraigg Braithwaite also slogged Rashid, whose first spell was untidy, against the spin for a leg-side boundary.

But, having batted patiently into the 30th over, Kraigg Braithwaite was stumped after skipping down the wicket and being beaten through the gate by Moeen Ali. Mohammed, having just brought up his 50 with a heave to midwicket off Stokes, was caught at mid-on as he tried to clip Plunkett through the leg side before Jonathan Carter, who shone briefly with 39 off 36, was deceived by another slower ball and lofted a catch to mid-off.

Rashid took both catches and he claimed a third – and the best of them – when Jason Holder attempted to heave the ball into the ocean but could only loft it just back past the bowler, while Carlos Brathwaite was caught on the midwicket boundary after Jason Roy, realising he may fall over the rope as he tried to complete the catch, calmly threw the ball underarm to Sam Billings running round to offer his support. Ashley Nurse was bowled through the gate and Shannon Gabriel, called through for a leg bye, was beaten by an excellent pick up and throw from Jos Buttler.

It looks like a far from adequate total but on an even less adequate surface, a series-clinching victory might prove hard work.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo. He will be covering England’s tour of the Caribbean in association with Smile Group Travel, specialists in hosted supporters’ packages.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Source: ESPN Crickinfo

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