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For all the talk of England's weakness against spin, it was an over of pace that defined West Indies' defence of 179 in Pallekele
Andrew Fernando in Pallekele
September 27, 2012
Johnson Charles: "It was kind of easy"
For all the talk of England's weakness against spin, it was an over of pace that defined West Indies' defence of 179 in Pallekele. Ravi Rampaul may not have commanded the attention Sunil Narine would have got at England team meetings yet, inside three balls, he effectively derailed England's chase, forcing them to rebuild from the first over, rather than aggressing during the Powerplay as they pursued a challenging total.
Craig Kieswetter was caught trying to pull a short ball from wide of the off stump, before Luke Wright sent a similar delivery to slip next ball. Alex Hales would have hoped to be part of an opening surge, as had been the case thrice across both matches played on the same pitch on the same day, but instead found himself battling to conserve wickets alongside Jonny Bairstow. England could manage only eight runs in the first two overs, and 29 inside the Powerplay, pushing the required run-rate out to more than ten an over.
The spinners played their part after the early breakthroughs, but though Darren Sammy used 15 overs of spin - opting not to bowl Andre Russell or Kieron Pollard at all - and the four slow bowlers shared only two wickets between them. Even the final over, in which England could still have conceivably snatched victory, was given to Marlon Samuels ahead of the seam options available, including Sammy himself. Together the slow bowlers did apply the squeeze, going at just over seven an over collectively, and despite Eoin Morgan's ballistics towards the finish, England never posed a serious threat to the West Indies total following a pedestrian start.
The victory was set up for West Indies by Chris Gayle and Johnson Charles who combined for 103 from 11 overs at the top of the innings. Charles' 84 from 56 balls was his highest score in any form of professional cricket, surpassing the 72 he had made in a List A. He was particularly powerful square of the wicket, and although he did not match Gayle stroke for stroke during their partnership, still hit ten fours and three sixes in an innings that travelled at a strike rate of 150.
"If you're batting with Gayle you know his ability, you know what he can do. You just have to give him the strike, sit back and watch," Charles said. "But just as Gayle can hit the ball far, I back myself to be able to hit the ball long and far and score quickly."
Charles also said the England bowling was "easy" to hit out against at times. Perhaps the pitch played a role in blunting the bowlers, with both matches played on the pitch featuring relatively high totals, and clean hitting through the line for several batsmen.
"You must give credit to the England batsmen, but defending 180 I thought we had it under control at all times. In an international anything can happen, but we had it under control," Charles said.
He was adamant however, that despite this being his highest score, his best is yet to come in the World Twenty20.
"I didn't look at it like the innings of my life. That's the highest score. But definitely I can do better. Hopefully next match I can get a hundred. I wouldn't say I made a name for myself tonight, but I'm looking to do it in the process of helping the team win the tournament."
Andrew Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's correspondent in Sri LankaFeeds: Andrew Fidel Fernando
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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