A match that featured fabulous entertainment, four wonderful single innings, 31 sixes and several rewritten records ended with England posting the highest second innings total ever at Kensington Oval but still trailing by 20 runs to a driven West Indies side. to an unattainable total of 224 -5 by Rovman Powell and Nicholas Pooran.
Tom Banton’s excellent 39-ball 73 kept England roughly on track to pursue their goal, but unlike Pooran a little earlier, he did not find a team-mate to join him at the crease and help shoulder the load. . Neither Jason Roy nor James Vince could get out of adolescence, Moeen Ali recorded his second duck of the series and Liam Livingstone, playing only after convincing coaches on Tuesday that he had fully recovered from esophagitis, was clearly not in form and needed a physio to bring him some medication before he had faced a ball. By the fifth, he was out.
When Banton himself went down in the next over, picking out Jason Holder from distance as he tried to hit Kieron Pollard for successive sixes, England’s chances seem to drop as precipitously as if they had the ball. But Phil Salt, one of three England debutants, was excellent as he scored 57 from 24 balls before going down in the final, keeping the England scoreline at a high enough rate that success remained a plausible possibility until almost the end.
After winning the toss and choosing, as they do, to bat second, England found a novel, though perhaps not the most effective, way of reducing attention on their leaky bowling alley of death: constantly filter runs along the tickets. As a result, and thanks to the wonderful batting of Pooran and Powell, who recorded the highest T20 score of their careers, the West Indies were able to set a new all-time third-wicket association record, over 200 runs scored per the first time at an international T20 at Kensington Oval, and the umpires must have nearly run out of the antiseptic wipes they use to clean the ball of potential viral debris each time it is returned from the stands. Including leg byes (one) and wides (one) there were 30 limits recorded on the hosts’ innings; only five overs were completely boundless and 13 contained at least a six.
It was a near-constant blitz, Pooran going 70-for-43 and Powell 107-for-53 before both lifted catches off Liam Livingstone deep in the closing stages. This was a huge blow all the way around, the overwhelming majority of 16 West Indies sixes not only clearing the rope but putting anyone sitting in the upper tiers of Kensington Oval in mortal danger who for some reason I wasn’t paying much attention.
Powell was the only new face on the West Indies side, replacing Odean Smith to incredible effect. Meanwhile, England’s changes included three debuts: Harry Brook and George Garton joined Salt to make their first starts, Moeen deputized as captain after Eoin Morgan strained his muscles.
in the warm-up and Tom Banton took the gloves
while Sam Billings returned to his traditional, albeit unwanted, role as drink carrier.
The upshot of all this was that England fielded three left-handers, but it was a left-handed batsman who first caught the eye, as Pooran took on his fellow left-handers and flourished. After Garton sacked Brandon King in his first over, Pooran came in and immediately took control, and by the time Shai Hope, the other West Indies starter, was sacked, Hope had four and Pooran was already at 32.
But by then Pooran’s period as an outstanding batsman was over. He continued to play wonderfully, but was instantly upstaged by Powell. The 28-year-old swept his second ball of the night for six and barely slowed from there, his fluidity being such that Pooran was soon reduced to accepting singles only for his teammate to strike again.
There was one shot in particular that illustrated Powell’s timing, when he deflected a complete pitch from Reece Topley over the limit for six while off balance and barely moving his bat. By the midpoint of the 11th, both players had faced 27 balls, Pooran scoring 46 and Powell 45, and they continued to go step by step from there: Pooran took 34 balls to reach a half-century, Powell 31, and both were eventually caught in the middle. safe for Livingstone, Pooran for a 43-ball 70 and Powell a superb 53-ball 107.
As much as Banton and Salt dotted the stands from then on, it was a standard that England could not match.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism