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Windies slip to defeat to set up grand finale

Saturday 30th, 2022

West Indies squandered a promising start to each innings to crash to a 34-run defeat to England in the fourth Twenty20 International, setting up a grand showdown in Sunday’s finale at Kensington Oval.

Entering the contest on Saturday with a 2-1 lead and aware victory would have clinched them the series, the hosts failed to chase down a challenging 194, despite a rollicking 64-run, opening stand between top-scorer Kyle Mayers (40) and Brandon King (26).

Once captain Moeen Ali (2-28), who earned Man-of-the-Match honours for a dashing all-round performance, removed both openers in the space of 12 balls with five runs added, the innings declined and the pressure of a burdensome required run rate took its toll.

All-rounder Jason Holder smacked 36 from 24 balls but England choked West Indies’ batsmen, holding them to just 40 runs from the last five overs.

“I thought we were in with a chance and even the way we started with the bat, I thought we had a very, very good chance,” said captain Kieron Pollard.

“We sort of slowed up in the middle, not losing wickets, but we were a bit slow but these things happen.”

Ironically, West Indies also let the game slip during the back end of the England innings as the visitors plundered 75 from the last five overs to race to 193 for six off their 20 overs.

Moeen smashed 63 off 28 balls to provide that late momentum after entering at number four, backing up opener Jason Roy who laid the foundation with 52 from 42 deliveries and James Vince who got 34 from 26 deliveries.

“That’s the nature of T20 cricket. It only takes six balls or a couple hits to get you away from where you wanted,” Pollard lamented.

“We were actually looking to eye up a 160, 170, a total that would’ve been chaseable, but they getting to 190-odd just put that extra 20 runs out of our reach.”

Tom Banton chipped Holder to mid-on for four at the end of the second over with eight runs on the board but Roy stroked five fours and three sixes as he put on 85 for the second wicket with Vince, who counted a pair of fours and sixes.

England stumbled when both fell in successive overs, leaving the innings on 97 for three in the 13th but it was then Moeen exploded, lashing a four and seven sixes to inspire a 65-run fourth wicket partnership with Liam Livingstone (16).

The floodgates really opened when Moeen clobbered Holder for four consecutive sixes in the 18th over which gushed 28 runs, and it proved the momentum England needed. The next over from fast bowler Romario Shepherd leaked 18 runs before Sam Billings (13 not out) finished the innings with back-to-back sixes off Holder (3-44).

Left-hander Mayers, in only his third T20I but first in 15 months, provided the thrust for the run chase, punching two fours and four sixes in a 23-ball cameo, while King supported with four fours in a measured 27-ball innings.

The breakthrough came when Mayers lofted Moeen down the throat of Chris Jordan at long off in the eighth over and King holed out to Phil Salt at long on at the start of the 10th.

Rovman Powell (5) failed to repeat his heroics from the third T20I when he drove around a googly from leg-spinner Adil Rashid and had his stumps shattered in the 11th over, and when Nicholas Pooran (22) dragged a catch low to long on off Liam Livingstone’s off-spin, West Indies were tottering on 97 for four in the 14th over.

Holder counter-attacked, blasting two fours and three sixes in a 47-run, fifth wicket stand with Pollard (18 not out) but by the time Holder fell in the deep, the required run rate had skyrocketed to beyond 20, leaving West Indies no realistic chance.

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