West Indies threw away a top-class spin-bowling performance by showing a dismal lack of intent with the bat on a slow pitch in Bristol. Having shown little urgency in a tricky chase of 221, West Indies lost wickets in a cluster, and ended up ambling to 128 for 9 as England ended the group stage of the 2017 Women's World Cup on top of the table.
England had hardly been clinical themselves when they batted. They played all around the legspin of Afy Fletcher
, who returned figures of 3 for 33. With Anisa Mohammed and Hayley Matthews playing more than just a supporting hand, the trio tied down England until their captain Heather Knight
mounted a late fightback with a gritty 67.
The cushion provided by those extra runs was all England needed. Unlike in England's innings, it was a medium pacer - Natalie Sciver
- that inflicted the bulk of the damage. With her team having already combined to reduce West Indies to 73 for 4, Sciver struck thrice in the space of 15 balls to push West Indies into a hole they never got out of.
West Indies' only period of stability came during an opening stand of 34 in 9.4 overs. Matthews and Kycia Knight employed great caution in playing out the new ball. By the end of the sixth over, West Indies had scored 16 with just one boundary.
West Indies soon found their fluency. It began with Knight collecting a four with a trickle down to fine leg off Katherine Brunt. She then pulled Anya Shrubsole through midwicket before Matthews launched Laura Marsh for a monstrous six over long-on in the next over. Any signs of a shift in momentum, though, were snuffed out with a run-out the next over.
England then swiftly seized control, helped by a 12-ball duck from Stafanie Taylor, the West Indies captain. Then, Matthews, after a brief period of solidity, was deceived by the angle of a straighter ball from Alex Hartley that she attempted to sweep.
It wasn't until the 27th over that the first signs of intent appeared, when Dottin swept Knight for a boundary. By then, the required rate had crept over six, which meant West Indies needed a sustained period of acceleration. Heather,however, denied them that when three balls later, Dottin perished lbw trying the same stroke.
With West Indies on shaky ground, Sciver then produced a double-strike in the 32nd over to hasten the slide. First, Chedean Nation was caught brilliantly by Tammy Beaumont running to her right at deep backward square leg, before Merissa Aguilleira misread a straighter one to be trapped lbw. Sciver finished with figures of 3 for 3 in four overs, and West Indies managed all of 29 runs from the final 88 balls.
It might seem strange that the turn had been sharper and a lot more vicious in the first innings when England batted, but that was down to the skill of West Indies' spinners. Perhaps influenced by the overcast conditions, Taylor, surprisingly, chose to put the opposition in with the surface expected to get slower as the game progressed. Fletcher, in particular, got the ball to rip past the outside edge of right-handers, and reaped the benefits of looping it up and slowing it down.
She struck in her second over, removing the well-set Beaumont, who scooped a full toss onto her helmet which then ended up a catch to the wicketkeeper. Two balls later, Sciver was sent back for a duck, bowled by one that spun from leg stump to crash into middle and off. Fran Wilson toe-ended a sweep to her body for the Merissa Aguilleira to snap up another catch behind the stumps and England had slid to 105 for 5.
Knight then mounted a fightback in the company of the lower order. She did have her share of luck, surviving an lbw shout against Fletcher on 39, with replays showing that the ball would have hit middle and off. The legspinner should have had a slip, considering the purchase she got, but West Indies did not afford her one and Knight, on 45, benefited again. England's captain enjoyed another reprieve when she had sprinted more than halfway down the pitch at the non-striker's end after the ball had struck batsman Jenny Gunn on the pad. Aguilleira went after the ball to effect the run-out, but in her haste she couldn't pick it up cleanly.
West Indies also slightly slipped up with their fielding towards the end, letting a couple sneak through to the boundary. But the bigger mistake, perhaps, was their giving away as many as 24 wides on a pitch that was hard to score on.
Akshay Gopalakrishnan is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo