ENGLAND MUST understand we are the champions.
So sang Lord Kitchener in his 1963 calypso, Cricket Champions and West Indies’ captain Darren Sammy gave the new generation of English cricketers a reminder of those lyrics yesterday with a nine-ball blitz in which he smashed three sixes and two fours in a match-winning 30 not out in the second Twenty20 International at Kensington Oval.
Sammy’s knock ensured the reigning World T20 champions beat England by five wickets with seven balls to spare to take an unbeatable 2-0 lead in the three-match series following Sunday’s 27-run triumph.
Whereas Sammy performed the final rites in grand style with two sixes and a four in the 19th over from pacer Tim Bresnan to carry the West Indies to 155 for five in 18.5 overs, it was left-arm swing bowler Krishmar Santokie who had earlier played a major role in restricting England to 152 for seven in their 20 overs after they won the toss and batted.
Santokie, who replaced the resting off-spinner Sunil Narine, made his presence felt in his fourth T20 International with impressive career-best figures of four for 21 to earn the Man-of-the-Match award.
That England reached such a competitive total was due to wicket-keeper Jos Buttler’s knock of 67 off 43 balls, which contained five fours and three sixes.
Buttler and opener Alex Hales, who made 40 off 36 balls with two sixes and a four, revived England with a fourth-wicket partnership of 76 in 8.5 overs after they were in early strife at 26 for three after five overs.
In response, Chris Gayle smashed four sixes and a four in a top-score of 36 off 30 after playing second fiddle to Dwayne Smith, who lashed three sixes and two fours in a 16-ball 30 during an electrifying opening stand of 48 in just 4.3 overs.
Sunday’s hero, Marlon Samuels never got into high gear and only managed 28 off 35 balls as he was kept in check by Ravi Bopara’s miserly medium pace.
His dismissal and that of Andre Russell off successive balls from Bresnan at the start of the 17th over with 37 required from the final four overs, left the match intriguingly poised for a fascinating finish.
But Dwayne Bravo, who cut his first ball for four, and Sammy, who smashed a full toss from Jade Dernbach for six to bring the equation down to 17 off the last two overs, sunk England’s hopes of a series-equalling win.
Earlier, Santokie gave West Indies a perfect start by trapping opener Michael Lumb and No.3 batsman Moeen Ali leg before wicket for four and five, respectively, in his first two overs.
When leg-spinner Samuel Badree had captain Eoin Morgan caught inside the mid-wicket boundary for three by Lendl Simmons, a sub-100 England total seemed likely.
But Buttler was missed on 15 off Ravi Rampaul with the score 45 for three when wicket-keeper Denesh Ramdin misjudged a skier. He made the Windies pay by hitting Sammy for two sixes in his only over, which cost 17 runs, the second one an innovative flick over fine leg.
Both Hales and Buttler took sixes off the next over from Rampaul which yielded 16 more runs. Bravo replaced Sammy at the Malcolm Marshall End and should have removed Buttler for 45 when the batsman skied a slower ball into the covers. But Bravo called for the catch even though both Samuels and Santokie were in better positions, and after running about 20 metres, spilled the offering.
Bravo made amends when Hales casually whipped the next ball straight to Simmons inside the mid-wicket boundary, and after play resumed following a rain stoppage with England on 107 for four in the 15th over, Buttler brought up his 50.
Santokie’s return for his final over was critical as he removed both Buttler, caught by Sammy at point, and Bopara, taken by Bravo at long on for 14.
In reply, Smith again got the Windies innings off to a frenetic start, pulling Bresnan for a four and six in the first over, while in the next over from Dernbach, Gayle smashed him over the Greenidge and Haynes Stand for a huge six.
Even if Smith was fortunate to see the ball peel off the outside edge of the bat and sail over third man for six as he attempted a big drive off Bresnan, he was in total control when he nonchalantly lifted the same bowler over long on for maximum.
The introduction of off-spinner James Tredwell made no difference as Gayle followed up a savage straight drive with a straight six which crashed into the Cozier, Short and Coppin Media Stand.
Dernbach finally got Smith when he aimed to play through the leg side and got a leading edge for Bresnan to take the catch in the covers.
After hitting Tredwell out of the ground and into the Goddard’s Complex, Gayle followed at 75 for two when he played on to Bopara in the 11th over. But new batsman Simmons cut debutant left-arm spinner Stephen Parry for two consecutive fours before he was caught behind for 19 off medium pacer Luke Wright. 111 for three.
Just when it looked like the pendulum was swinging England’s way as Samuels and Russell were caught by Hales at long on off successive balls from Bresnan, Bravo joined Sammy and the two put on the finishing touches.