West Indies collapse chasing 226
England 225 (Bell 56, Edwards 5 for 45) beat West Indies 146 (Chanderpaul 53*, Broad 3-20) by 79 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
After producing arguably their most disciplined bowling performance of the entire tour, West Indies squandered a golden opportunity to go 1-0 up in the best-of-three one-day series by shedding four wickets in 12 balls inside the first seven overs of their run-chase. Once again, Shivnarine Chanderpaul resembled the boy on the burning deck as he ground his way to 53 not out from 100 balls, but the match had been lost long before he was left stranded with 10.1 overs of the innings remaining.
Up until the start of West Indies' innings, it seemed there could be only one winner. Chris Gayle won the toss and chose to bowl first under overcast skies, and his bowlers responded with a heady combination of aggression and accuracy. The fiery Fidel Edwards claimed the lion's share of the spoils with 5 for 45, his best ODI figures since he took six on debut against Zimbabwe, but it was Ravi Rampaul and Daren Powell who established the stranglehold by conceding just 46 runs in the first 13 overs of England's innings.
England's eventual total of 225 contained just 12 boundaries, the first of which didn't arrive until as late as the eighth over. Matt Prior, by all accounts an opener in the pinch-hitting mould, grafted his way to 34 from 65 balls; and even the mighty Kevin Pietersen was made to look ordinary. He had scratched his way to 33 from 47 balls before he lost patience and slapped Dwayne Bravo to gully (148 for 3).
The mainstay of England's performance was Ian Bell, a player who copes better than most with being becalmed. Back in the side after a groin strain, he compiled 56 from 75 balls before being run out in a horrible mid-pitch mix-up with Owais Shah - an accident that had been threatening for some time because of Bell's continued habit of ball-watching.
At 181 for 4 after 42.4 overs, bad weather interrupted England's innings for the best part of an hour - upon the resumption, they lost their last six wickets for 44, including four in four overs to a pumped-up Edwards. Only Shah remained to guide them to any sort of serviceable total. He made 42 from 38 balls as England's tail crumbled around him, before being run out with one ball of the innings remaining.
Such a meagre target should have been easily attainable, especially with the sun breaking through to ease the conditions for batting. Instead, West Indies' problems began as early as the fourth over, when Gayle inexplicably tucked a loose ball off his hip and all the way to Stuart Broad on the backward-square leg boundary. At 9 for 1, with their captain and key strokeplayer back in the pavilion, the stage was set for a bout of jitters.
James Anderson was in the mood to exploit West Indies' uncertainties. Finding good pace and movement, and zipping the ball down the slope at will, he bowled Runako Morton for 0 with an inducker, then followed up one delivery later with the big scalp of Marlon Samuels, who misjudged the length of a short ball, and gloved an attempted leave to the keeper.
Three balls later, Anderson was in the action again, this time as a fielder at third man. His fast, flat throw - coupled with a smart take from the keeper Matt Prior - beat a suicidal piece of running from Devon Smith, and at 13 for 4, West Indies' innings was in tatters. Chanderpaul dropped anchor, as he has done all summer, while Bravo did his best to keep the momentum going with 29 from 34 balls, in a sixth-wicket partnership of 61.
The drinks break, however, wrecked Bravo's concentration - upon the resumption, Broad nipped his second ball off the seam, and Prior accepted a routine snick with glee. Two balls later, Denesh Ramdin lost his off stump to one that kept low, and Broad added a third when Dwayne Smith wafted loosely outside off stump for Prior to snaffle a thin inside edge.
West Indies had been reduced to 93 for 7 and their tormentor of the Test series, Monty Panesar, hadn't even made an appearance. When he did, in the 22nd over, he needed just eight deliveries to make his mark. Daren Powell was utterly deceived in flight and pinned plumb in front of middle-and-leg, and that was emphatically that.
Rampaul did delay the inevitable, and in quite some style, making a career-best 24 in a stand of 35 with Chanderpaul that reduced the deficit to double-figures. But Plunkett, who deserved his success after a torrid time in the Test series, induced a leading edge that Broad circled beneath at mid-off, and the match was sealed, appropriately enough, by England's new captain, Paul Collingwood, who collected a throw from the deep and whipped off the bails with Edwards still floundering for the crease. His one-day captaincy career is up and running with a hard-earned victory.
Andrew Miller is UK editor of Cricinfo