West Indies cruise to victory
West Indies 282 for 6 (Chanderpaul 63, Lara 57) beat England 280 for 8 (Vaughan 67, Strauss 67) by four wickets
West Indies cruised to their second victory in the space of two days against England in St Lucia to go 2-1 up in the series with one to play. Led by an explosive cameo from Shivnarine Chanderpaul at the top of the order, they won the sixth one-dayer by four wickets, easing past England's 280 with 17 balls to spare.
After Brian Lara again won the toss and opted to field, it was an impressive allround team effort which did the trick for West Indies. Like yesterday, the pitch at Gros Islet was good for batting and the outfield was just as quick. England, though, again didn't make enough runs as firstly Chanderpaul and Ricardo Powell, then Lara and Ramnaresh Sarwan, and finally Dwayne Bravo and Ridley Jacobs, put on the partnerships to sink England.
Michael Vaughan and Andrew Strauss top-scored for England with 67 apiece, but the total never looked as if it would be enough, considering how yesterday's match went (when England totalled just one run more), and after West Indies' flying start. After Chris Gayle was out lbw in the third over, Chanderpaul and Powell got the crowd going with a host of eye-catching shots and England never really recovered.
Chanderpaul hit the wayward Stephen Harmison for two fours, and then Darren Gough was smacked for three consecutive boundaries. The first was clipped past third man, the second flew for six over midwicket, and then came a leg glance for four. It was another four - his fifth - which signalled Chanderpaul's half-century from only 42 balls, a straight drive off James Anderson, and it was already all going wrong for England.
Powell made a positive start with a back-foot drive for four off Gough, and he continued to play his shots. He creamed all the bowlers to the fence with ease, and hammered Andrew Flintoff over extra cover for six to bring up the West Indian 100 well inside the first 15 overs.
However, it was the unlikely duo of Gareth Batty and Rikki Clarke who briefly dragged England back in the match with two quick wickets. Powell again gave his innings away when he tamely chipped Batty to Anthony McGrath, the substitute fielder, at long-on for a dashing 38 (112 for 2), then two balls later Chanderpaul chipped a Clarke long-hop straight to Batty at short midwicket for an impressive 63 from only 55 balls (113 for 3).
Sarwan and Lara, as they did yesterday, ticked the score along with little frills and spills. They added a serene 72 together until Sarwan played on to a Flintoff slower ball (185 for 4). Lara's innings, though, was paced to perfection. He moved effortlessly along, happy to knock the singles about and provide the platform for the win. He picked up the pace in the 38th over, smacking Gough back down the ground twice in two balls to bring up another one-day half-century.
England did have a sniff of a chance when Lara hooked Harmison and picked out Gough at fine leg for 57, shortly after Dwayne Smith was well caught by Strauss, running round from deep midwicket. When Lara went, West Indies still needed 37 with five wickets left, and even though there were a few anxious moments, Bravo and Jacobs knocked off the runs, with Bravo showing maturity beyond his 20 years to make an assured 33 not out with three boundaries. What's more, he had the pleasure of making the winning hit for the second day running.
It was another bad day for England, who again fell around 20 runs short of setting a testing target. Vaughan and Strauss gave their side a good platform, but, thanks to some tight bowling, England's innings never really took off. All the top five contributed, but none went on to make the big score needed. West Indies' bowling was in general well-disciplined, with the economical Gayle leading the way.
After Marcus Trescothick was bowled early on for a brisk 29, Vaughan guided his side to a solid start. He was at his unflustered best, working the bowlers around with seven boundaries. However, just as he was building a good platform with Strauss, he was run out by a direct hit from Powell (141 for 2). To add injury to insult he fell over in trying to make his ground, and later needed treatment on his shoulder.
After a nervy start, the left-handed Strauss settled down to keep up England's momentum. He favoured the back foot, from where most of his seven boundaries came. The pick of them was a delightful late cut off Gayle for four on the way to his first one-day half-century. But just when England needed him to push on, he was trapped lbw sweeping across the line to Gayle (199 for 3).
Strauss's wicket seriously slowed things down for England, as Flintoff and Paul Collingwood became increasingly bogged down against some tight bowling. Collingwood did push the accelerator, though, with two fours and a six, and Flintoff then got in on the act, swatting Ian Bradshaw out of the ground, but just as the innings was threatening to take off, their two quick wickets stalled it.
Flintoff scooped Bradshaw to Chanderpaul at extra cover for 43 (251 for 4), then Collingwood hit Powell straight to Sarwan at deep midwicket for 38 (285 for 5). The last four wickets then clattered for only 18, as England surrendered their good position and, for the second time in as many days, fell short of setting a challenging total on such a good pitch.