England lose ODI series as West Indies chase reduced target

By Sports Desk December 09, 2023

England battled hard, but their first ODI series since the World Cup debacle ended in defeat after the West Indies pinched a nail-biting decider in Barbados.

Chasing a Duckworth-Lewis-Stern adjusted target of 188 in 34 overs after several rain interruptions, the Windies lurched from 99 for two to 135 for six following Will Jacks’ unlikely three wicket-haul.

But after Jacks and Rehan Ahmed were bowled out, leaving the Windies requiring 33 off the last four overs, Romario Shepherd greeted returning quick Gus Atkinson with back-to-back sixes to turn the tide.

Atkinson leaked 24 from the over and Shepherd ushered the Windies to a four-wicket win, with 14 balls to spare, with a belligerent 41 not out off 28 balls alongside debutant Matthew Forde (13no).

Forde earlier took three for 29 as England stumbled to 49 for five, with captain Jos Buttler out for a golden duck after an ill-judged hook at Alzarri Joseph took a top edge and ballooned to the fine leg fielder.

Ben Duckett’s classy 71 off 73 balls, putting on 88 with Liam Livingstone (45), dug England out of a hole and was the backbone of their 206 for nine in 40 overs, with the lower order adding some grit.

A 2-1 loss in their first assignment is hardly the start Buttler and head coach Matthew Mott would have wanted in this reset post-World Cup, but a top-order collapse left them with a mountain to climb after they were asked to bat first when play belatedly got under way following a two-hour rain delay.

England’s openers had made four successive partnerships of 50 or more, but were separated in the first over as Phil Salt’s lame chip just about carried to Joseph.

Forde’s day got better when Zak Crawley shaped to leave but the ball reared up off a length, thudded into his glove and looped into the slips.

The rookie’s only misstep occurred with a misfield on the boundary after Duckett’s meaty pull, giving the left-hander the first of three fours in an over but Forde atoned in his next over, hitting a nagging length and finding a bit of shape to take the edge of Jacks.

Matters deteriorated even further in the 10th over for England as Joseph’s direct hit ran out a diving Harry Brook while Buttler’s rush of blood to his first delivery left them five down.

England have endured some epic collapses in the Caribbean down the years and this briefly threatened to be added to an ignominious list, but Duckett and Livingstone stabilised the tourists.

Duckett was especially impressive, strong on his favoured cuts and pulls off the back foot but he eschewed his customary sweeps to the spinners until he had adjusted to an unpredictable pitch.

After going past 50, the left-hander then Livingstone upped the ante, each hammering sixes off Joseph but both perished when they were too early on balls holding up in the pitch. Duckett got a leading edge to short midwicket while in Shepherd’s next over, Livingstone miscued to mid-on.

After a 45-minute rain delay which led to England’s innings being reduced from 43 to 40 overs, last-wicket duo Atkinson and Matthew Potts got them above 200 with an unbroken stand of 35 off 29 balls.

Another downpour took more overs out of the game and meant a revised target, with England making a breakthrough after eight deliveries when Brandon King punched Atkinson to Jacks on the ring.

While Sam Curran found lavish movement and Potts, in for the unwell Brydon Carse, was tidy, there were no further inroads as Buttler turned to Ahmed in the ninth over. The leg-spinner was greeted with a glancing cut by Alick Athanaze before ending his over being driven for another four by Carty.

Ahmed clipped Athanaze’s off-stump without dislodging the bails, tricking England into a review for caught behind, before Atkinson returned to pin the left-handed opener lbw five short of his 50.

After Shai Hope tamely chipped Ahmed’s googly to midwicket, Buttler opted for spin at both ends on an increasingly wearing pitch where prodigious turn was on offer.

Jacks capitalised as Shimron Hetmyer lobbed to point while Sherfane Rutherford holed out. Carty, who had dropped two simple catches when the Windies fielded, made a crucial 50 but gave Jacks a return catch.

Jacks drew the edge of Shepherd two balls later but the ball whistled away for four while the Windies big-hitter threw his hands at Ahmed to alleviate some of the building pressure.

Buttler opted to turn to Atkinson after Ahmed and Jacks bowed out but the paceman delivered two full tosses which were dispatched over the rope, the first following a fumble by Livingstone.

There was no coming back from that for England and Shepherd sealed victory in Livingstone’s next over with a slog sweep for four.

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