England v West Indies, ICC World Twenty20, The Oval

Mettle, experience, comebacks and bravery

Andrew Miller at The Oval

June 15, 2009

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Ravi Bopara unleashes the strongest of cuts, England v West Indies, ICC World Twenty20, The Oval, June 15, 2009
Ravi Bopara's cucumber-cool 55 from 47 balls was both the bedrock of England's innings and its principle source of impetus © Getty Images
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Moment of the day

Ramnaresh Sarwan's open-shouldered smash over the covers to seal West Indies' slot in the semi-finals with four balls of a gripping contest to spare. The moment of triumph was like a re-enactment of their wonderful Champions Trophy victory in the gloaming on this very ground in September 2004, as a team that had been beaten for fun all summer, and written off by the press, stormed back with a victory to savour against the hosts. Then as now, West Indies spilled out onto the pitch, delirious with their achievement, as they marched onwards and upwards.

Turning point of the day

Cruel as it is to point the finger, James Anderson's yawning wide midway through his second over was critical. Until that moment, West Indies had needed 27 from 16 balls with five wickets still in hand - a stiff requirement that made England undoubted favourites. But then, with that delivery, the batsman Ramnaresh Sarwan was emboldened, and his instant response was a retreat to leg and a full-swinging swipe over the covers for four. Anderson responded by tightening his line, but Sarwan saw it coming and tickled the ball fine. Nine runs were haemorrhaged from two legitimate balls, and suddenly the requirement was a cakewalk.

Duel of the day

Ryan Sidebottom's renaissance goes from strength to strength, and his five-ball tussle with the deadly Chris Gayle was a condensed classic. Every ounce of England's attention was focussed on West Indies' skipper, and after four balls, the heat of the battle was ferocious. A fearsome pull for four, a loose but tracer-like slash over the covers, and a squeezed couple down to fine leg took Gayle's tally for the over to ten from four, but back came Sidebottom with the ball of the match. A late-tailing yorker smashed into Gayle's leg stump to send a packed Oval into paroxysms of delight. No sooner had Sidebottom received a standing ovation at third man, he was back into the action one ball later, as Lendl Simmons uppercut Stuart Broad straight into his lap.

Bowling hunch of the day

West Indies suffered a massive setback in the build-up to the match when Fidel Edwards pulled up lame with a back strain, but in the absence of extreme pace, Gayle opted to keep it cool with the new ball. Jerome Taylor was relegated from his first-up berth and in his stead came the medium-pacers Darren Sammy and Kieron Pollard. The temptation proved too great for Luke Wright. One slap for four got his innings up and running, but Pollard stuffed him with his third ball of the match - a manic charge and a chaotic thwack, a spiralling top-edge and a cool take from the keeper, Denesh Ramdin.

Arrival of the day

Pollard didn't have it all his own way in that first over, however. Whereas Wright got greedy and succumbed to temptation, Kevin Pietersen simply exerted his birthright, and butchered a brace of boundaries from the remaining two balls. His first delivery was short, and pulled immensely in front of square for four. His second was too straight, and flicked off the toes as he charged down the track to meet it. Taylor's late appearance in the fifth over didn't alter his mindset one jot either - a stunning punched on-drive was the first of two more fours in four balls, as Pietersen hurtled to 22 from 12 balls.

Fielder of the day

West Indies' catching has been disastrous so far this summer but, as with the rest of their cricket, they've clearly been saving their best for when it most matters. Andre Fletcher at deep midwicket was a case in point. His two snaffles in the deep were critical moments in England's innings - first, Pietersen's onslaught was cut short by a mistimed slog-sweep, and then, in arguably their best fielding moment of the entire tour, Fletcher timed his leap to perfection to intercept a certain six from Owais Shah, and instead send him on his way for 18 from 15. In the frenetic closing stages, however, Fletcher's inner klutz couldn't resist making a cameo appearance, as he gifted two precious overthrows as the ball cannoned off his shin.

Comeback of the day

Adil Rashid may not know his cow from his lamb, but when it comes to spin he certainly knows his onions. His introduction in the fifth over was an undoubted gamble, and when Bravo launched his first ball over long-off for six, it was a massive test of the young man's mettle. He responded superbly, conceding just five more runs from the remainder of the over, and chiming in with the important wicket of Pollard.

Lucky charm of the day

So long as Ravi Bopara was at the crease, England were ticking along quite nicely thank you. His cucumber-cool 55 from 47 balls was both the bedrock of England's innings and its principle source of impetus. On his watch, England struck 12 fours and two sixes, at a rate approaching nine runs an over. But as soon as he was gone, nailed lbw by a typical Chris Gayle off-dart, England's momentum, habitually fragile in the second 10 overs, crumbled. Until Stuart Broad launched the final two balls of the innings for four and six, England didn't manage a single boundary in 55 long and torturous deliveries.

Interruption of the day

That momentum was very much on the wane by the time the long-threatened rain closed in to force a 30-minute break in the 17th over. England had not struck a boundary since Owais Shah's six, 40 balls earlier, and when play did finally resume, Paul Collingwood's eagerness to get a move on led directly to his downfall. He played a premeditated sweep from his second legitimate delivery, and was trapped lbw by Dwayne Bravo for 11, taking his tournament tally to a rather sorry 63 runs in five innings.

Andrew Miller is UK editor of Cricinfo

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Andrew Miller Andrew Miller was saved from a life of drudgery in the City when his car caught fire on the way to an interview. He took this as a sign and fled to Pakistan where he witnessed England's historic victory in the twilight at Karachi (or thought he did, at any rate - it was too dark to tell). He then joined Wisden Online in 2001, and soon graduated from put-upon photocopier to a writer with a penchant for comment and cricket on the subcontinent. In addition to Pakistan, he has covered England tours in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand, as well as the World Cup in the Caribbean in 2007
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