T20 World Cup: Salt, Bairstow take England to 8-wicket victory over WI

In a resounding start to their Super 8 campaign at the T20 World Cup, England showcased their prowess with a commanding 8-wicket victory over hosts West Indies.

Gros Islet (St Lucia): In a resounding start to their Super 8 campaign at the T20 World Cup, England showcased their prowess with a commanding 8-wicket victory over hosts West Indies.

Having barely scraped through to the Super 8s, England defied expectations and dominated the game, securing the win with 15 balls to spare.

Winning the toss, England captain Jos Buttler opted to bowl first, a decision that soon paid dividends. The West Indies openers started cautiously, but Brandon King sparked excitement with a spectacular 101-metre six followed by three boundaries. However, disaster struck as King, batting on 23, sustained a groin injury and had to retire hurt, leaving the hosts in a precarious position.

Nicholas Pooran and Johnson Charles took up the mantle, aiming to stabilise the innings. Charles, showing signs of aggression, began to free his arms. Yet, England’s bowlers maintained tight lines and kept the run rate in check.

When Charles fell for a well-made 38, Rovman Powell promoted himself up the order and injected momentum with a blistering cameo. Powell’s 36 from 17 balls, which included five towering sixes, three of them off Liam Livingstone, threatened to propel West Indies to a formidable total.

Just when it seemed the hosts might breach the 200-run mark, England’s bowlers staged a comeback. Livingstone redeemed himself by dismissing Powell in the same over, and Jofra Archer removed the struggling Pooran, who managed 36 off 32 balls. Adil Rashid then delivered a crucial blow, enticing Andre Russell into a misjudged shot that resulted in a catch.

Despite a late surge from Sherfane Rutherford, who scored a brisk 28 from 15 balls, West Indies posted a total of 180. While respectable, it felt underwhelming given the context of the match.

England’s response was swift and assertive. Openers Phil Salt and Jos Buttler set a blistering pace in the powerplay, with Salt particularly ruthless against the West Indies bowlers. His aggressive approach included a monstrous 100-metre six off his KKR teammate Andre Russell. By the end of the powerplay, England had raced to 58 without loss, laying a solid foundation for the chase.

Although West Indies briefly revived hope by claiming the wickets of Jos Buttler and Moeen Ali, Bairstow and Salt quickly extinguished any aspirations of a comeback. Salt, having slowed down momentarily, reignited the assault, targeting Romario Shepherd with ferocity. In a single over, he plundered 30 runs, decisively tilting the game in England’s favour.

With clinical precision, Bairstow and Salt carried England over the finish line. Bairstow’s composed innings complemented Salt’s explosive style, ensuring that England reached the target comfortably with 15 balls remaining.  Salt hammered unbeaten 87 and Bairstow played an innings of 48 not out.

Brief Score:

West Indies 180 for 4 in 20 overs (Johnson Charles 36, Nicholas Poorani 36; Moeen Ali 1-15, Adil Rashid 1-21) lost to England 181 for 2 in 17.3 over (Phil Salt 87 not out, Jonny Bairstow 48 not out; Andre Russell 1-21, Riston Chase 1-19) by eight wickets.

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