But for the rain...

Published : Jun 27, 2009 00:00 IST

We’ve done it. Ramnaresh Sarwan and Shivnarine Chanderpaul greet each other after steering West Indies to victory.-AP
We’ve done it. Ramnaresh Sarwan and Shivnarine Chanderpaul greet each other after steering West Indies to victory.-AP

We’ve done it. Ramnaresh Sarwan and Shivnarine Chanderpaul greet each other after steering West Indies to victory.-AP

West Indies have the final say as the weather intervention hinders England. Andy Bull reports.

In the end England succumbed to the most typical of all their problems. It was not a batting collapse that cost them, not an inability to adapt to the format or a collective attack of insecurity, but the rain. Plain and simple and very cruel. England are out of the World Twenty20, but had they just been blessed with a little more sunshine the story could have very different. As it was, burdened with a wet ball and faced with a West Indian team given all the licence it needed to cut loose, England were edged out.

"If it was a 20-over game we might have had a better chance of it," rued Paul Collingwood afterwards. The match was trimmed of an over for each four minutes the delay extended beyond 7.40 p.m. When play finally resumed after the agonising delay, it was not the rain England were worrying about, but Chris Gayle. When he was bowled by Ryan Sidebottom the relief that swept across the ground was palpable, the tension slackening just as the humidity had after the downpour.

Sidebottom was given an ovation when he returned to his fielding position at long-on, and he implored the fans to make still more noise as they chanted his name in chorus. But their celebrations turned out tobe premature.

This was the 18th match between these two teams since the start of February. Since then an epic ongoing contest has wound its way through seven Test matches, nine one-day internationals and three Twenty20s, boiled down to nine overs of excruciating intensity.

The twists and turns along the way have been innumerable, from Jerome Taylor's five for 11 at Sabina Park through the abandoned Test in Antigua and John Dyson's Duckworth/ Lewis miscalculations in the rain in Guyana. Astonishingly there was room for more drama even in the few overs left after Gayle's dismissal.

Kieron Pollard and Dwayne Bravo raised the pulses again with sixes from consecutive balls. With those familiar old foes Ramnaresh Sarwan and Shivnarine Chanderpaul still to come, a seemingly difficult task actually ended up being quite easy for West Indies, as only three runs were needed from the final over. Their partnership of 37 ended England's hopes.

Ironically the match had started in hot, bright sunshine. But away behind the OCS Stand ominous clouds were gathering, and before long the flashes of forked lightning on the horizon were drawing as many oohs and aahs from the crowd as the action in the middle.

After so many clashes in so little time the two teams could be excused for assuming they knew all there was to know about each other. West Indies, it turned out, still had the odd trick up their sleeves. With Fidel Edwards pulling out injured, Gayle gave the new ball to Darren Sammy and Pollard. The move was indicative of West Indies' intent to confuse the England team by confounding their expectations.

The entire attack had a patchwork feel, with Gayle cobbling together his 20 overs with contributions from seven players. Gayle was determined not to let England settle and rotated his bowlers with obsessive unpredictability, making no fewer than 10 bowling changes.

For batsmen as cocksure as Ravi Bopara and Kevin Pietersen, this unfamiliarity did not prevent a healthy contempt. But for the rest of England's underpowered middle order, boundaries were very hard to come by until Broad hit two from the final two balls. Whether the 161 would have been enough will never be known. As it is, not for the first time, the English will be left to rue their weather.


England v West Indies. Result: West Indies won by five wickets. (D/L method).

England: R. Bopara lbw b Gayle 55; L. Wright c Ramdin b Pollard 6; K. Pietersen c Fletcher b Simmons 31; O. Shah c Fletcher b Bravo 18; P. Collingwood lbw b Bravo 11; J. Foster c Pollard b Benn 13; G. Swann (not out) 10; S. Broad (not out) 10; Extras (lb-4, w-3) 7. Total (for six wkts., in 20 overs) 161.

Fall of wickets: 1-8, 2-64, 3-98, 4-121, 5-132, 6-150.

West Indies bowling: Sammy 4-0-24-0; Pollard 1-0-10-1; Benn 4-0-30-1; Taylor 2-0-24-0; Gayle 4-0-25-1; Simmons 1-0-14-1; Bravo 4-0-30-2.

West Indies (target: 80 runs from nine overs): C. Gayle b Sidebottom 15; A. Fletcher c Foster b Anderson 0; L. Simmons c Sidebottom b Broad 0; D. Bravo st. Foster b Swann 18; K. Pollard b Rashid 9; S. Chanderpaul (not out) 17; R. Sarwan (not out) 19; Extras (lb-1, w-3) 4. Total (for five wkts., in 8.2 overs) 82.

Fall of wickets: 1-6, 2-16, 3-16, 4-41, 5-45.

England bowling: Anderson 2-0-19-1; Sidebottom 1.2-0-15-1; Broad 2-0-20-1; Swann 2-0-16-1; Rashid 1-0-11-1.

© Guardian Newspapers Limited 2009

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