England got their World T20 campaign off to a horrible start as they were hammered by West Indies at the Wankhede Stadium.
England set a competitive total with an attacking outset
A West Indies team decimated by players pulling out of the squad before the start of the tournament, found life difficult in the opening overs as Jason Roy and Alex Hales took a liking to the bowling of Jerome Taylor and Samuel Badree. The openers smashed 36 off the first four balls, before Andre Russell was brought into the attack with an instant impact. Jason Roy loves to play attacking but struggled to get into the 20s during the recent tour of South Africa and his poor form continued here despite a promising start. On 15, Roy could only pull Russell's short delivery straight to Badree at mid-wicket.
Joe Root came to the crease and looked to continue England's new approach to one day cricket by striking every ball that was there to be hit. The number three, not always known for his big hitting, smashed two sixes as he and Hales raced to a 50 run partnership off just 35 balls. The West Indies finally worked a breakthrough in the 12th over as a flighted delivery by Sulieman Benn slipped under the bat of Hales to bowl him for 28.
Jos Buttler joined Root, but the pair only lasted three overs, as a mistimed stroke from the latter was picked off by Taylor as he fell for 48. Captain Eoin Morgan continued the blast fest as he hit a huge six within moments of coming to the crease. Morgan and Buttler looked for the big shots at every availability as they hunted a big total. Buttler's electrifying innings came to an end at 30, as he picked out long leg from a Dwayne Bravo full toss. Like Root who went before him, he would have been disappointed to have been caught out so softly.
Ben Stokes kept the trend going, as he walked out to smash another England six off just his third delivery. Stokes and his captain set England up at 164-4 before an eventful last over. Morgan hit the first ball for six, before a single and then a four by Stokes. A Bravo slower ball then trapped Stokes LBW, before Moeen Ali was dropped on the boundary for six on his first ball! Ali and Morgan then went for a quick two off the final ball, only to see Ali run out as England finished on 182-6, about par for the course.
Chris Gayle works his way through the gears
With the game finely balanced, England could not have asked for a better start. David Willey, who picked up a hat-trick at the end of the final warm-up game, made it four wickets from five balls as he dismissed Johnson Charles who hit a pull shot straight to mid-wicket.
However, Chris Gayle and Marlon Samuels are quality experienced campaigners and they did not waste any time on getting the West Indies back on track. The pair reached 55 at the end of the Power Play after 36 balls. England required a wicket urgently and Adil Rashid duly delivered. The spinner tempted Samuels into a shot driven straight to Willey, as the dangerous number three departed for 37.
Ali joined Rashid in a two-pronged spin attack as they tried to slow West Indies down, but Gayle and Dinesh Ramdin seemed to find a dangerous formula. With Ramdin running quick singles, Gayle was ready to stand and deliver as he executed two consecutive maximums, leaving his team 85-2 at the halfway point.
18 off Ben Stokes' next over started to give West Indies the edge, as Gayle really started to settle into proceedings with another six. England did pick up a wicket in the next over, but it was not the man they were after, as Ramdin top edged an Ali delivery to Rashid as he perished for 12. It did not take long for Gayle to score the first half century of the tournament, taking just 27 balls as his innings began to accelerate. Reece Topley picked up the wicket of Dwayne Bravo for just 2, but they could not dismiss Gayle for love nor money.
Andre Russell came to the crease, but it was all about Chris Gayle. He became the first player to score two World T20 centuries, smashing this one off just 47 balls and taking the game beyond England in the process. The England bowlers looked on as all but Chris Jordan were above nine runs per over for their economy rate. Russell hit the winning runs with 13 balls to spare, as West Indies cruised to an easy opening victory. England, particularly the bowlers, will have to take a long hard look at themselves oncemore.