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World Cup woe for Windies

BAT MAN: Joe Root

ENGLAND EASED, rather than powered, their way to the 213 runs target to beat West Indies by eight wickets. Admittedly the losers had the worse of the weather conditions but once the terror of the pace attack was tamed the result was all but inevitable.

Their T20 big-hit style could not come to terms with the requirements of a larger than usual ground. West Indies were skewered by a 104 runs second-wicket partnership between Joe Root (100 n.o.) and Chris Woakes (40).

The England batsmen battled with fortitude and composure against the fast bowling which had pummelled Pakistan and brought Australia temporarily to its knees: they may have batted West Indies out of serious contention for a place in the World Cup semi-finals.

Root, opening the innings in the absence from the crease of Jason Roy, and Jonny Bairstow put on 95 for the first wicket in pursuit of the 213 runs total. With Roy and captain Eoin Morgan incapacitated and Andre Russell sent sprawling on the pitch (and off the field) when his wobbly knee gave way in delivery, the scene was beginning to resemble a popular television hospital soap-opera.

When Bairstow was out – caught Brathwaite bowled Gabriel – tail-ender Woakes was promoted in the batting order to take the pressure of the invalids.

England kept the score ticking along by scoring ones and twos, and straight driving (rather than being besotted by the aerial route), a lesson which their West Indies counterparts had still not learned in spite of the grief they experienced against Australia.

The weather which had been miserably grey during West Indies innings brightened up in the afternoon for England. Home advantage, somebody mused. Yet it was Root’s controlled innings – keeping the ball down – which took the play away from West Indies.

To mis-paraphrase the song “the man’s got style- he’s strictly Root”. It was, in fact, occasional off-spinner Chris Gayle who gave ther batsmen most trouble (with one very close l.b.w. call against Woakeds).

West Indies have another – perhaps final – chance to kick-start their campaign when they take on Bangladesh at Taunton on Monday. Bangladesh may be regarded as minnows but they should not be disregarded – just ask South Africa whom they humbled.

Earlier here Jofra Archer showed that he had more than one arrow in his quiver. After his initial onslaught had failed to dislodge the early batsmen the Barbadian Exile came back with a vital strike of two wickets in consecutive deliveries - though the hat-trick eluded him.

The challenge was laid down. Archer would be bowling to Gayle. It was mooted as being a confrontation in the style of Deontay Wilder against anybody who hits a bit harder than Anthony Joshua.

As soon as he won the toss Morgan put West Indies in to bat in a gloom which if it was not described as being stygian was because nobody could see as far as that. Archer unleashed his thunderbolts, the crowd, if not quite the world, held its breath, and Gayle trundled on towards yet another half-century.

He did not get there because with his score at 36 the Jamaican left-hander smacked a delivery from Liam Plunkett towards the long square-leg boundary where Jonny Bairstow, running round, completed the catch.

By then Evin Lewis had been dismissed already, bowled by Woakes in the opening exchanges of the morning. Shortly afterwards Shai Hope, scratching around uncertainly, as if batting indeed more by hope than judgement, got his leg in front of a straight ball from Mark Wood.

The umpire did not agree with the appeal but the review-system did and that is what mattered. That brought to the crease Nicholas Pooran and Shimron Hetmyer - the future, it is said, of West Indies batting.

They certainly played so - pushing the score along, hitting boundaries when they had to, and cutting out unnecessary flamboyance. Then with the partnership at 89 - and his own score 39 - Hetmyer hit a comparatively simple caught-and-bowled catch to Root. Shortly afterwards at 156-5 captain Jason Holder was out in exactly way, and England were through to the underbelly of West Indies batting.

But not soft under-belly. Russell's ego-perception allows no negative or defensive action. He swept a ball from Adil Rashid into the hands of Woakes at deep mid-wicket - and out again - which he followed with two towering sixes in the same over.

With his own score at 21 and the total the all-rounder perished the way he had batted - caught by Wood and deep mid-wicket from Woakes. Archer gained the important wicket of Pooran, out to the thinnest of catches to wicketkeeper Buttler, and had Sheldon Cottrell l.b.w to the next ball. That was at 202-8 and nine runs - and one six by Carlos Braithwaite - later Archer had his Barbadian compatriot caught at the wicket and the innings ended at 212.

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