West Indies v England: Darren Sammy Fires Hosts To Series Win
West Indies beat England by five wickets in a closely-fought contest to capture the Twenty20 series with one match to spare.Jos Buttler struck 67 off 43 balls to help England recover from 26-3 to post 152-7 in Barbados.
Chris Gayle (36) and Dwayne Smith (30) set the Windies on course, only for a flurry of wickets to revive England.
But captain Darren Sammy’s unbeaten 30 off nine balls saw the hosts home with seven balls to spare.
It was England’s fifth straight Twenty20 defeat, leaving them at a low ebb just 11 days before their first game in the World Twenty20 in Bangladesh.
“We have enough power in the tank, but we’re just faltering at the very start,” said stand-in captain Eoin Morgan.
“Finding the balance between being really positive and not losing wickets is difficult, and the margin for error when momentum is against you is very, very small.”
As was the case in their 25-run defeat in the series opener, England struggled to deal with the variations of the West Indies attack – left-arm seamer Krishmar Santokie took 4-21 in only his fourth Twenty20 international and leg-spinner Samuel Badree 1-16.
England’s Ravi Bopara showed his own capabilities with the ball in this format, removing Gayle during a miserly spell of four overs for 10 runs.
But pace bowlers Jade Dernbach and Tim Bresnan lost control of their length at the death as Sammy cracked three sixes and two fours to catapult his team over the line.
“This is good preparation for the World Twenty20 and we have one more game to give the fans something to cheer before we head to Bangladesh,” said Sammy.
“We’ve focused a lot on the first six overs and the back end. We’ve got them covered and, with Smith and Gayle at the top, Marlon [Samuels] and [Lendl] Simmons in the middle and me, [Dwayne] Bravo and [Andre] Russell to finish it off, we’ve got a good balance.”
England, who brought in all-rounder Moeen Ali and spinner Stephen Parry for injured captain Stuart Broad and Ben Stokes, lost three wickets inside the first five overs after winning the toss and choosing to bat.
Michael Lumb and Moeen fell lbw to slower balls from Santokie and Morgan swept Badree to deep fine leg.
England’s innings gained momentum in the middle overs as Alex Hales and Buttler added 76 for the fourth wicket, with Hales riding his luck to make 40 off 36 balls before he holed out to cow corner.
A 50-minute rain delay gave both sides a chance to regroup, but it was the Windies who appeared to benefit most as England never regained their brief ascendancy.
Buttler’s commanding innings, featuring five fours and three sixes, was ended by Santokie, who then had Bopara caught at long-off for a stuttering 14 off 15 balls.
Smith gave West Indies the perfect start with 12 runs in the first over as he put on 48 for the first wicket with Gayle.
Gayle mixed solid defence with the occasional explosion, hitting four sixes and depositing balls from Dernbach and James Tredwell out of the ground.
But when he chopped on to Bopara, the tide turned. Luke Wright had Simmons caught behind for 19 and Bresnan sent the vast English contingent in the Kensington Oval into raptures by having Samuels and Russell caught in the deep by Hales off successive balls.
With 37 required off 22 balls, the match was in the balance, but there was little sign of nerves from Sammy.
The powerful St Lucian clattered a low Dernbach full toss for a flat six then took Bresnan apart with two huge sixes down the ground and a cut through point to finish the game.
West Indies will look to secure a series sweep in Thursday’s last match before setting off to defend their World Twenty20 crown.
Meanwhile, the odds on England repeating their 2010 triumph in the tournament are lengthening by the day.