Eoin Morgan’s England signalled their title aspiration with a comfortable six-wicket victory against defending champions West Indies in their Twenty20 World Cup opener yesterday.
Batting fireworks were expected in the repeat of the 2016 final but England made it a one-sided affair with their bowlers running amok at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium.
Moeen Ali (2-17) wrecked the West Indies top order before Adil Rashid ran through rest of the line-up to skittle out the Caribbean side for a paltry 55 inside 15 overs. England, bidding to become the first side to hold the 20-overs and 50-overs World Cup titles at the same time, chased down the target in 8.2 overs to begin their Super 12 campaign in style.
Morgan’s men endured their own batting wobble in their chase losing four wickets in the process but their victory was never in doubt. Jos Buttler made an unbeaten 24, sealing the victory with a pulled boundary while Morgan, not out on seven, looked on from the other end.
“It’s as good as it gets. To start our campaign like that, all credit to our bowling unit,” Morgan said. “I think Moeen read the conditions beautifully. He took chances when his match-up was in his favour, and to take his opportunity like he has... was brilliant.”
Moeen was adjudged player-of-the-match.
Earlier, wary of the evening dew that could make gripping the ball a challenge, Morgan opted to field and West Indies slumped to 37-5 inside eight overs with Moeen in the thick of things. Stationed at mid-off, Moeen ran backwards chasing a skier from Evin Lewis and took a terrific running catch over his shoulder to draw first blood.
In the next over, Moeen, who bowled his four overs on the trot, had Lendl Simmons caught in the deep and the spinner returned to dismiss Shimron Hetmyer to jolt West Indies.
The middle order did hardly any better as Tymal Mills dismissed Chris Gayle and Nicholas Pooran, while Chris Jordan removed Dwayne Bravo to further turn the screws. Rashid then ran through the bottom half of the West Indies line-up, dismissing Kieron Pollard and Obed McCoy off successive deliveries.
Gayle’s 13 was the only double digit score in West Indies’ abject batting capitulation against England’s fiery attack.
“It was unacceptable, we accept that,” a dejected Pollard said of their batting woes on what he thought was a decent track.
“For us, it’s just a matter of finding our straps.”
“We went out, the guys tried to play their shots and it didn’t come off. I don’t think any sort of panic will come into our camp. It is what it is,” added Pollard.
Leg-spinner Rashid sent down 14 deliveries, conceded only two runs and claimed four wickets in a terrific display of spin bowling.
England 56 for 4 (Buttler 24*) beat West Indies 55 (Rashid 4-2, Moeen 2-17) by six wickets
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