Recent Match Report – West Indies vs England 2nd T20I 2023/24

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West Indies 176 for 7 (King 82*, Powell 50, Rashid 2-11) beat England 166 for 7 (Curran 50, Joseph 3-39) by 10 runs

Brandon King and Rovman Powell produced the power surge that England’s renowned white-ball hitters couldn’t come close to replicating, as West Indies romped to a 2-0 series lead with a victory in Grenada that was significantly more emphatic than the final 10-run margin would have you believe.

Such a result didn’t seem on the cards when a collapse of 4 for 11 in 16 balls left West Indies rocking at 54 for 4 in the ninth over of the match, at which point England’s twin-spin attack of Adil Rashid and Rehan Ahmed were in complete command of the contest.

And yet, West Indies turned the tables in startling fashion, first through a brace of half-centuries from Powell, who belted 30 runs off Sam Curran’s second and final over, and King, whose superb unbeaten 82 from 52 included three sixes and four fours off the last 12 balls of Rehan’s day.

And then, with a stiff but attainable 177 to defend, West Indies served up a spin stranglehold of their own, as the left-armers Akeal Hosein and Gudakesh Motie put a lock on the contest for eight consecutive overs from the Pavilion End. They produced the combined figures of 3 for 33, and though Curran showed gumption to top-score with 50 from 32 balls after his chastening bowling display, a requirement of 28 off the final over proved way beyond Rehan and Moeen Ali.

Dot and bash in powerplay

West Indies owed their victory in the opening T20I to a familiar trait, with their pain-train of batters out-thumping England by 14 sixes to six. Today was a similar story – 13 played eight in the final analysis, including Rehan’s penultimate-ball slap over point when the game was already lost.

For the first half of their bowling effort, however, England appeared to have mitigated for that threat. Three of West Indies’ sixes duly came in the powerplay, but then, so too did 18 dot-balls, or half of their allocation, as the recalled Moeen burgled a three-run opening over before Chris Woakes’ crafty use of the cutter gave him the final say in an engaging duel with Kyle Mayers.

With memories of the record-breaking 46-six ODI on this same ground in 2019, Jos Buttler had had no compunction about bowling first after winning the toss, safe in the knowledge that a hefty chase was on the cards. The fact is, their eventual target wasn’t nearly as stiff as he might have bargained for, yet England were still a distant second-best.

Rash and Rehan rip the top-order

Master and apprentice, heir apparent and all that… from the moment he bowled England to the Under-19 World Cup final two years ago, there was never much doubt that Rehan would eventually take over the mantle of England’s attack-leading legspinner across formats.

What was less obvious, however, was that there would be a period, in Rehan’s international infancy and at the tail-end of Rashid’s magnificent career, that the pair would dovetail as a twin-spin force to be envied. And to judge by their thrilling post-powerplay surge, that time might just be now, notwithstanding the gulf that eventually emerged between their eventual figures.

After entering the attack for the seventh over, Rashid was first to strike, just three balls into his spell, as Nicholas Pooran was flummoxed by a diet of loopy googlies and surrendered with a loose hack to long-on. Rehan then went one better – his second delivery burst through the defences of the in-form Shai Hope, dipping and ripping into off stump to dispatch him for 1 from 3.

Not to be outdone, Rashid took the baton back in his very next over, confounding Shimron Hetmyer with a wonderful double-whammy – a huge air-ball first-up that plopped on a middle-and-leg line, followed by a flatter flipper outside off next-up that Hetmyer could only prod uneasily to Moeen at slip.

By the time their five-over alliance was done, West Indies were listing at 68 for 4 after 11, with King’s forceful thump through the line off Rehan being their only boundary in 31 balls. That, inevitably, was about to change.

King, Powell serve the smackdown

Unwittingly or otherwise, Rehan’s change of ends marked the start of West Indies’ charge. His first ball was too full and got the treatment as King climbed handsomely through the line. A fumble from Woakes at long-on then gave way to a beastly slog-sweep for King’s fourth six, and a 33-ball half-century, whereupon Powell unleashed a muscular thrash off Tymal Mills to bring up the hundred inside the 14th over.

Rashid returned to restore some short-term order. His fourth and final over yielded a trio of singles, for the outstanding figures of 2 for 11, but Powell was only just getting started. Curran’s fragile form has been a concern for some months now, and now he found himself fully exposed by the most expensive over of his career.

It started, as these things sometimes do, with a hint of misfortune, as Powell’s under-edge eluded both his stumps and Buttler’s dive. But thereafter it was carnage. Twice Curran took the pace off, twice he was butchered high over the ropes. Twice he aimed fuller, and was launched brutally down the ground. In between whiles, he tried to hide the ball and was done for a brace of wides.

The fourth of Powell’s sixes brought up his 27-ball fifty, and he might have made it five in the over had Brook at long-on not intercepted with a brilliant full-stretch dive. But his departure didn’t exactly slow West Indies’ onslaught. King was waiting for Rehan’s return, and made it 48 in two overs with three fours and a mighty slog over deep midwicket, as the rookie retreated with 1 for 47, his most bruised figures of the tour so far.

At least Mills had the experience to restore a degree of order. He’d been quietly effective across his first two overs and utilised his startling range of pace-on and -off deliveries to limit King and Andre Russell to an exchange of four singles in his third. Russell, inevitably, connected with two sixes before the innings was done, including a remarkable leaping uppercut off long-off, but Mills struck back with a pinpoint slower ball before making two in two to wrap up the 20 overs, as Jason Holder holed out to cow corner.

Spin and pace unpick England

Left-arm round, wide on the crease, angled into the body, cramping the ambitions of a succession of eager right-handers. It was a simple recipe, devastatingly deployed, as Hosein and Motie – only playing due to a knee niggle for Romario Shepherd – dovetailed to perfection.

Three overs for Hosein in the powerplay, four overs for nine runs for Motie thereafter, then one final over for Hosein, in which the dangerous Harry Brook became the third and final of their combined victims. The lack of gumption in England’s approach was palpable, not least from the listless Buttler, whose attempt to give Hosein the charge ended with a limp push to short cover – either that or accept he was about to be stumped by a mile.

And while that lockdown was being enacted, Alzarri Joseph had licence to crank it up from the far end. His extra pace had been something of a liability in the preceding contests of this tour, but now his pounding of the pitch from just back of a length, with awkward lift into the body and a succession of catchers lined up on the leg-side, was all West Indies needed to turn the screw on their opponents.

His methods did for both Phil Salt and Will Jacks inside the first ten overs, both men falling in the mid-20s having struggled to turn their proactive intent into anything telling. And though Joseph’s figures were dented in his third over as Curran – promoted to No. 5 and responding with a 31-ball fifty that was, remarkably, the first of his T20I career – the first ball of his fourth effectively sealed the deal, as Hosein clung onto a skewed drive to point.

Up until that point, the only real threat to West Indies’ hegemony had come via an off-day with the ball for Andre Russell. After figures of 3 for 19 on Tuesday, he went wicketless for 66 this time, including a 22-run second over that featured an all-too-rare sighting of Liam Livingstone in power-hitting mode. Before he could turn his 17 from seven into anything substantial, Motie was on hand to saw him off.

Andrew Miller is UK editor of ESPNcricinfo. @miller_cricket

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