SOUTHAMPTON: Joe Root’s classy unbeaten century led England to a comprehensive eight-wicket win over West Indies in a one-sided World Cup match at the Hampshire Bowl on Friday.
The result pushed England above India and Australia to No.2 on the table, just a point behind first-placed New Zealand, and suffice to say that, for the No.1-ranked one-day international side, things are going swimmingly in their home tournament. Those who had flashes of World Cups past after that loss to Pakistan needn’t have concerned themselves.
Opting to field, England had West Indies bundled out for 212. Twice, the Windies batsmen put up strong fightbacks. Each time, England broke through when it mattered most. First, Chris Gayle and Shai Hope put on a fighting 50, accelerating in the second half of the first Powerplay to take control. But, after surviving an engaging battle with Jofra Archer, Gayle fell to Liam Plunkett for a 41-ball 36.
Then, after two quick wickets, Nicholas Pooran and Shimron Hetmyer put up another fightback – their 89-run stand helped revive West Indies, but having seen off England’s array of quality pacemen, their partnership was broken by the part-time off-spin of Joe Root, who saw off both Hetmyer and Jason Holder, ending with figures of 2/27.
Archer (3/30) then ran through the middle-order as West Indies were shot out in 44.4 overs. The only worrying news for England were the injuries to Jason Roy, who didn’t bat, and Eoin Morgan, the captain.
As it turned out, England didn’t need them on the day. The 95-run opening stand between Jonny Bairstow (45) and Root laid the foundation, and despite the former’s dismissal by Shannon Gabriel, Root went on to score his second century and third 50-plus score of the tournament. Chris Woakes, promoted to one-drop given the circumstances, more than held his own in a 54-ball 40, and with the pair putting on 104, it was an easy day out for the home side.
Player of the match Joe Root said: “It was a really good toss to have won today, and it was good to take the opportunity and use the conditions. Rest of the guys helped build big partnerships. (On opening) It’s just nice to get some time in the park. Tried to hit the gaps, and it’s not much difference between opening and lower down.
The way Woakes also came in and batted was very good. We spent two days in the indoor nets and (played) plenty of short stuff there. You need to have the method and you need to back yourself to do it. We pride ourselves in having our basics covered. (On bowling) I’ve just been trying a few things. When you don’t have the skills some of the other guys have, you try out a few things. (On the Botham celebration) Still a work in progress. Tried it a couple of days ago,” he added.
England captain Eoin Morgan said: “It’s the back. It’s a bit sore at the moment. Jason Roy has potentially tweaked his hamstring. He’s gone for a scan and we have to see it for the next 48 hours. I’ve had back spasms in the past and we have to see over the next 24-48 hours. Everybody in our squad is vital, and we don’t want injuries. I think we had a really good day at the office today. The way the bowlers stuck to plans on that surface was outstanding. Continued to create chances through the middle overs.
“Joe (Root) has had an absolute day out. He’s the glue that keeps the team together. (Joffra Archer) He is a pleasure to captain. He loves the challenge and to overcome it. Our plans have remained the same throughout, even though the personnel have changed. The guys are executing the plans better, and you need players that can play a part through the tournament. (On Afghanistan) They’re a side we’ve actually struggled against in the past. We have to put in our research,” he added.
West Indies captain Jason Holder said: “I don’t think we put enough runs on the board. We needed one or two more partnerships. The toss was very crucial, but we did a pretty decent job in the Powerplay. Our batsmen need to take a bit more ownership in the middle overs. One or two curious shots, and batters got out at crucial stages. it’s happened twice in two games, and we really need to look at that. (On short bowling) We probably didn’t read the pace of the pitch. Having said that, defending 213 wasn’t easy. (Fitness) We’ve been carrying some niggles in recent weeks, and we need to take care of that. There’s no point looking back. We can only control the future.”