England survive to level series after astonishing West Indies onslaught

By Sports Desk January 23, 2022

England edged out West Indies by one run in an extraordinary second T20I at Kensington Oval, just about making up for their wretched start to the series.

There looked to be no doubt about the outcome when West Indies crumbled to 98-8 in pursuit of England's 171-8, but Akeal Hosein and Romario Shepherd both blazed innings of 44 not out to leave the home side just short on 170-8.

Hosein finished the match with three consecutive sixes off Saqib Mahmood, whose final over cost 28 runs as West Indies' chase ended in heroic failure.

After a nine-wicket battering on Saturday, England delivered a more competitive performance, with Reece Topley making a successful return to international cricket. For Topley, this was a first T20I appearance since facing South Africa in March 2016 and his brilliance had West Indies in immediate trouble at 6-2 in their reply to a solid England score.

After a relatively slow start, Jason Roy carted Fabian Allen for 24 runs from the 11th over as England began to pile on the runs. Roy top-scored with 45 before he was caught just inside the ropes at long-on by Kieron Polland off Shepherd, while Moeen Ali made a useful 31 and Chris Jordan flung the bat for 27 from 15 balls.

Topley then gave England a superb start with the ball, snaring Brandon King lbw with the second delivery of West Indies' reply before smartly running out Shai Hope.

Nicholas Pooran had been dropped twice before James Vince held an exemplary diving catch at deep midwicket to give Moeen the wicket of the dangerman for 24 in the eighth over, and West Indies imploded from there, or so it seemed.

Adil Rashid had Pollard and Darren Bravo pinned lbw, each time needing a review to get the decision, before Ali accounted for Jason Holder and Odean Smith in the 12th over, leaving the home side on 65-7.

Fabian Allen followed for 12 at the start of the 16th over, but then came the big flurry as West Indies, with two wickets remaining, got to the point where they needed 38 from the final two overs. Topley temporarily applied the brakes, but Mahmood was almost powerless to resist the big-hitting ninth-wicket pair, Shepherd making his runs from 28 balls and Hosein from just 16 deliveries.


A theme persists

West Indies have now alternated between victory and defeat in their last five men's T20I home matches. Their lower order gave England a headache in the closing overs, but recent history pointed to West Indies probably struggling to follow up their opening win. Indeed, the last time West Indies won their first two T20Is in a calendar year was in 2016, as they beat England and Sri Lanka in consecutive matches.

West Indies go down fighting

The hosts looked toast when they went seven down, but the lower order made England suffer horrendously, even as West Indies fell short of the victory target. The tourists' bowlers were seriously unsettled by the big hitting of Shepherd and Hosein, and there might be a lasting psychological impact caused by that pair, ahead of the third game in the five-match series on Wednesday.

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