Alan Gardner is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo. @alanroderick
England 171 for 8 (Roy 45, Moeen 31, Holder 2-25) beat West Indies 170 for 8 (Shepherd 44*, Hosein 44*, Moeen 3-24) by 1 run
England climbed off the canvas in Bridgetown and narrowly survived a battering by West Indies' ninth-wicket pair to level the T20I series with a one-run victory. The home side were 98 for 8 and needing 74 to win from 29 balls, only for Romario Shepherd and Akeal Hosein's extraordinary onslaught to leave hearts in mouths right to the final delivery.
Asked to bat first after Kieron Pollard again won the toss, England started cautiously - as might befit a team which had been 49 for 7 before barely scraping into three figures the previous afternoon. Jason Roy eventually opened up to lash 45 from 31 balls, while his stand of 61 in 6.2 overs with Moeen Ali gave England a platform. Despite losing 3 for 15 in the space of 13 deliveries, the tourists kept hammering away, Chris Jordan again proving effective on his old stomping ground after being promoted to No. 7.
In the chase, West Indies quickly came unstuck. Reece Topley, almost six years after his previous appearance, claimed a wicket with his second legitimate delivery and then effected a superb run-out in his follow through to leave West Indies 7 for 2. Nicholas Pooran and Darren Bravo repaired some of the damage but at 33 for 2 at the end of the powerplay, the required rate was already approaching ten an over.
Although a fresh surface offered better value for shot-making, the pressure soon told. Moeen claimed three wickets and Adil Rashid two as England's spinners kept the screws on during the middle overs, West Indies lurching from 47 for 2 to 65 for 7. The tail wagged vigorously, with Shepherd and Hosein's late assault serving up a reminder of England's death-bowling woes, but they had been left with (just) too much catching up to do.
Victory finally gave England's supporters something to savour amid a gruelling winter across formats and continents. It had been almost three months since they beat Sri Lanka in Sharjah at the T20 World Cup, with the seven defeats and a draw from eight subsequent fixtures encompassing a semi-final exit, another Ashes disaster and then Saturday's nine-wicket hammering.
Shepherd, Hosein put Windies up England
Pollard spoke at the toss of the importance of consistency for a West Indies side featuring several young players looking to find their feet at international level. But after a tone-setting display in the first T20I, this seemed like a performance of familiar failings - missed chances in the field proving costly, before they nosedived into trouble with the bat.
The result looked a foregone conclusion when Fabian Allen picked out square leg at the start of the 16th over, but the folly of West Indies' top order not looking to take the game deeper was then exposed as Shepherd and Hosein almost snatched a sensational victory from the jaws of miserable defeat. Jordan's 18th over went for 23, bringing flashbacks to England's T20 World Cup semi-final loss against New Zealand, before Saqib Mahmood threatened to go to pieces defending 30 from the final over.
Hosein hit two fours from three legitimate balls, to go with a couple of wides, and although England were mathematically safe Mahmood could not afford any more extras. He was duly beasted for 6-6-6, as Hosein finished unbeaten on 44 from 16 - doubling his previous best score in T20 cricket - but with his head in his hands. Shepherd had 44 off 28 at the other end, their unbroken 72-run stand setting a T20I record for the ninth wicket.
Topley had not been named in an England T20I XI since their second game at the 2016 World T20 - a tournament at which he bowled 4.1 overs at a cost of 55 runs. Four back stress fractures and endless months in rehab had left him questioning his future in the game, and although he returned to the ODI set-up in 2020 and played twice in India last year, a side strain prevented him from making a case for the World Cup in the UAE (although he was eventually called in as an injury replacement).
Given the new ball after replacing Tymal Mills in Barbados, Topley immediately demonstrated the attributes that saw him capped by England as a 21-year-old. His third delivery was a full inswinger that rapped Brandon King on the front pad, dispatching the batter whose calm half-century had seen West Indies home in the first game - a marginal call in the end, though Hawk-Eye upheld umpire Nigel Duguid's decision.
Better was to come in Topley's second over. Shai Hope dug out another inswinging bolt from on high, and seemingly got enough on it to send the ball back past the bowler. Topley flung his 6ft 7in frame down to half-stop it to his left, but still Hope thought he would able to scramble through - only for the bowler to turn, run and hurl himself full length, scooping the ball one-handed into the stumps with the opener short.
"If that's out, that is unbelievable!" Sam Billings, England's wicketkeeper, could be heard saying on the stump mic. In fact, it could have been out twice, as replays showed the delivery had brushed Hope's boot first and would have lbw if reviewed. Topley was denied another wicket when Liam Dawson dropped Pooran, but figures of 1 for 10 from three overs in the powerplay had left West Indies floundering.
Roy sparks (eventually)
England could hardly have made a worse start to their innings this time around, having been 10 for 3 after two overs on Saturday. But after becoming the first of four batters to go boundary-and-then-out in the first T20I, Roy took a more circumspect approach in a bid to give the innings some solid foundations.
Tom Banton made the early running, reverse-sweeping to good effect, and although England lost two wickets in the sixth over - Allen holding a sharp return catch off Banton before dislodging James Vince's off bail - they were in reasonably good shape on 40 for 2 at the end of the powerplay.
Roy had unleashed a couple of staccato bursts, reverse-chipping four and blasting Sheldon Cottrell down the ground, but by the halfway stage of the innings he had eked out 17 off 23. In a warm-up game a few days ago, he had creamed a 36-ball hundred; and all of sudden, with the resumption after drinks, he flicked the same switch.
Allen had 2 for 26 from three overs at that stage, but saw his first ball carved through point. A dot followed, before Roy unleashed: a slog-sweep into the stands followed by one that disappeared out of the ground over long-on, then fours clubbed through midwicket and point. Although he fell two deliveries later, England had found their spark. From 64 for 2, they crunched 107 from the second ten.
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