When the English cricket team, led by Stuart Broad, arrived in the West Indies in the third week of February, 2014, the players were scared to look back over their shoulders. The events of recent cricket history were too haunting for most of them. As if the recent humiliating Australian experience was not enough, the English selectors singled out Kevin Pietersen for poor performance. But everyone knew that the reasons for dumping Pietersen were not related to cricket alone. The selectors have not been happy with the big man and his larger-than-life maverick image and the failure in Australia handed them a great chance to cut Pietersen to size.
The West Indies tour was tailor-made for the shorter versions and specially focused on getting some useful practice for the T-20 World Cup Tournament, beginning in Bangladesh from March, 16, 2014. When they took the field on February 28, 2014 for the first ODI against the West Indies at Antigua’s North Sound stadium, England left out Alistair Cook, Ian Lamb and Eoin Morgan from the side that had played the 5th ODI against Australia, one month earlier. There were two debutants in the side and both of them performed brilliantly. Both Michael Lumb and Moeen Ali were openers and while Ali made a creditable 44, Lumb went a step further. He became the first batsman in 40 years after Dennis Amiss to score an ODI century on debut. The efforts of the newcomers put the visitors on a sound pedestal after West Indies set a victory target of 270. But once Lumb got out in the 37th over, the middle order couldn’t sustain the scoring tempo. The wily Sunil Narine, tied the batsmen in a knot and didn’t allow any scoring liberties. The tour opener ended with a 15-run victory for the West Indies.
England, however, bounced back in the next two games to win the ODI series. In the second ODI, the English side inducted another debutant, Stephan Parry. And what a debut it turned out to be for Parry. His bowling might not have been great but he struck three blows and with other English bowlers also chipping in, West Indies were bowled out for a paltry 159. Though Parry earned the man-of-the-match award, it was Ravi Bopara’s clever chase that saw the day for England after other batsmen fell to the beguiling spells from Bravo, Miller and Narine. In the series decider played on March 5 at the same venue, where first two matches were played, England batted first. For a change all the batsmen did well and put up a good total of 303 runs. While Joe Root scored a century, Jos Butler missed his by just 1 run. West Indies lost 5 wickets with just 80 on the score board. But later order batsmen, led by Denesh Ramdin batted creditably. Ramdin went on a rampage scoring a 109-ball 128 with 12 fours and 5 sixes and he was ably supported by Bravo and Sammy. Just when, the West Indies looked like stealing the match from England, Tim Bresnan bowled Ramdin and also accounted for Sammy. The loss of these wickets brought the scoring rate down and some smart work in the field by Englishmen helped in bowling out the West Indies. For his superb performance with the bat, Joe Root emerged as the man-of-the-match. Root was also declared the man-of-the-series, which England won 2-1 and looked forward to the ensuing T-20 series.
Darren Sammy came back as the West Indian Captain for the 3-match T-20 series with the opener on March 9, 2014 at Kensington Oval at Bridgetown, Barbados. Batting first, West Indies piled up an impressive 170/3 in 20 overs, helped by good knocks from Dwayne Smith, Chris Gayle and Marlon Samuels. When England came on, they started losing wickets too quickly and in 11.4 overs they were 73/6. Badree was particularly menacing as he took 3/17 in his 4 overs. Thanks to Bopara and Bresnan in later stages, England recovered, but still lost the game by a wide margin of 27 runs. In the second ODI played on March 11, 2014, Krishmar Santokie ran through the England innings taking 4/21 and England were restricted to 152. The total was not enough in the end though the game got close at one stage. Skipper Sammy turned the game by hammering a 9-ball 31 and achieved victory in favour of the West Indies by 5 wickets. With successive victories in first two T-20 matches, West Indies have already clinched the series. The last game will be played on the same venue on March 13, before the teams fly to Dacca for the T-20 World Cup.
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