ENGLAND'S PARTHIAN SHAFT FELLS WEST INDIES

Chris Gayle and Dwayne Bravo (below) scored handsome centuries.-PTI Chris Gayle and Dwayne Bravo (below) scored handsome centuries.

England, playing for pride, cruised to a fine victory at Motera. G. Viswanath reports.

England's skipper Andrew Flintoff kept his word and bowled five overs against the West Indies at the Sardar Patel Stadium, Motera. Having undergone a corrective surgery to his ankle, many wondered if he would risk bowling in the Champions Trophy. However, bowling for 20 minutes during the nets was a part of his daily routine ever since England arrived in India for the championship.

So when Flintoff bowled those five overs he did not show any sign of discomfort. Thereafter, he made useful runs and also won a short skirmish with the West Indies' main fast bowler Jerome Taylor.

Flintoff, who talked of playing for pride on the eve of the match as England had already been eliminated from the tournament, had the satisfaction of leading his team to a fine victory, with Andrew Strauss, Ian Bell, and Kevin Pitersen showing tremendous commitment as they chased a tall score of 272.

"There was a bit of a wobble in the middle, but Kevin (Pietersen) was fantastic. He paced the innings with the lower order batsmen and won the match for England. If he continues like this England would become stronger,'' said Flintoff.

Finally, after four matches, curator Dhiraj Parsana managed to offer a pitch that gave little assistance to the bowlers. The ball came straight and at a predictable height.

The West Indies batsmen were the first to revel on the wicket with Chris Gayle and Dwayne Bravo scoring handsome centuries. It was Gayle's second three-figure knock in the competition and Bravo's first in one-day internationals.

K.R. DEEPAK

England dropped Steve Harmison and brought Jon Lewis in his place. Lewis bowled 10 overs on the trot, took a wicket and impressed his team management. He was not able to swing the ball as much as he would have liked to, but Gayle and Bravo treated him with respect.

Gayle and Bravo occupied the crease for around three hours to score 101 (10x4, 1x6) and 112 not out (14x4, 1x6) respectively. Their partnership of 174 off 208 balls enabled the West Indies to put up a big score.

The West Indies batting, largely dependent on Shivnaraine Chanderpaul, Gayle, Ramnaresh Sarwan and Brian Lara, would in future look to Bravo if he continues playing this way.

Former West Indies captain Clive Lloyd has been travelling with the team and advising the young players. He has been working with the bowlers and the batsmen at the nets and the West Indies coach Bennett King has welcomed his contribution.

That the wicket was easy paced was evident when Strauss began belting the bowlers all round the wicket.

None of the West Indies seamers could contain the England openers. While Strauss looked for runs, Bell showed the full face of the bat in defence.

Gayle, who followed up his century by picking three wickets for 31 runs, was adjudged the Man of the Match.

Later in its innings, England seemed to have lost its way when Pietersen took charge. He settled down and played some big shots to take the match away from West Indies.

He along with Sajid Mahmood added 44 runs for the unbroken eighth wicket to take England to a fine victory.

THE SCORES Motera, Ahmedabad, October 28, 2006. England won by three wickets.

West Indies: C. Gayle (run out) 101; S. Chanderpaul lbw b Lewis 13; D. Bravo (not out) 112; R. Sarwan c Collingwood b Mahmood 29; B. Lara b Mahmood 3; M. Samuels (not out) 3; Extras (lb-1, w-9, nb-1) 11. Total (for four wkts. in 50 overs) 272.

Fall of wickets: 1-35, 2-209, 3-259, 4-268.

England bowling: Anderson 10-0-72-0; Lewis 10-1-35-1; Flintoff 5-0-27-0; Mahmood 7-0-44-2; Yardy 5-1-32-0; Dalrymple 10-0-42-0; Collingwood 3-0-19-0.

England: A. Strauss b Gayle 50; I. Bell (run out) 50; A. Flintoff c Taylor b Gayle 25; P. Collingwood c Bravo b Gayle 0; K. Pietersen (not out) 90; M. Yardy c Bravo b Samuels 10; J. Dalrymple b Samuels 8; C. Read c Gayle b Bravo 4; S. Mahmood (not out) 14; Extras (lb-11, w-10, nb-4) 25. Total (for seven wkts. in 48.3 overs) 276.

Fall of wickets: 1-82, 2-126, 3-127, 4-162, 5-180, 6-214, 7-232.

West Indies bowling: Edwards 7-0-56-0; Taylor 8.3-0-64-0; Collymore 10-1-43-0; Gayle 10-1-31-3; Samuels 10-0-45-2; Bravo 3-0-26-1.