ENGLAND strolled to an incredible and one-sided victory over West Indies in their Twenty20 World Cup opener.
You needed to pinch yourself when looking at the scoreboard – the mighty Windies, the reigning champions, were dismissed for just 55 all out.
Talk about a change of emotions from the last time the teams met in a T20 global event, that memorable evening in Kolkata in 2016 when Carlos Brathwaite whacked Ben Stokes for four successive sixes in the final over of the final.
Under Eoin Morgan’s astute captaincy here, England bowled and fielded well. But the Windies produced a batting performance of staggering ineptitude.
Their innings lasted just 14.2 overs and they did little more than offer catching practice.
There appeared no willingness to try to re-build their wreckage of an innings with virtues such as patience, care, strike rotation and maybe some ones or twos.
It was almost as though the batters had a sense of embarrassment at taking singles when hitting sixes is the macho thing to do.
England knocked off their paltry target in just 8.2 overs for the loss of four wickets and the crushing victory will do wonders for their net run-rate – which might be significant when it comes to qualifying for the semi-finals.
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In fact, Jonny Bairstow, Moeen Ali, Liam Livingstone and Morgan himself were all promoted up the order to try to end the game more quickly.
Before the game, fast bowler Mark Wood was ruled out with an ankle niggle that needed an injection – but he hopes to be fit for England’s next match against Bangladesh on Wednesday.
Morgan chose to bowl and wickets were soon falling.
Evin Lewis hoisted the final delivery of Moeen’s opening over for six – the only six of the innings – but then in the next over Moeen held a superb, back-pedalling catch at long-off to remove Lewis.
Lendl Simmons dragged Moeen straight to deep mid-wicket and then Shimron Hetmyer, his hair dyed bright blue, gave a simple catch to mid-on.
Tymal Mills really announced himself as an express bowler a few years ago when he yorked Chris Gayle while playing in a TV match for Sussex against Somerset.
And Mills, in his first England international since 2017, got Gayle again when the big man skied to mid-wicket.
Dwayne Bravo cut hard to Bairstow at point and Nicholas Pooran was caught behind aiming a big drive at Mills.
Mills and Moeen both finished with 2-17 from their four overs and Mills said: “West Indies have a very powerful batting line-up and we knew we had to be on our A game. We couldn’t have had a better start to the tournament.”
Adil Rashid produced even better figures – the remarkable return of 2.2-0-2-4 – as he demolished the lower-order with his wrist spin.
With his first ball, he bowled Andre Russell through the gate and then persuaded Windies skipper Kieron Pollard to offer an easy catch to long-on.
No10 Obed McCoy decided to try to hit his first delivery for six and managed only to pick out Jason Roy on the boundary.
Rashid wrapped up the innings when Ravi Rampaul swung at the ball and missed. What a shambles of an effort.
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