England put suspensions aside to win 4-0 over West Indies
Eoin Morgan’s men win despite missing Ben Stokes and Alex Hales over Bristol altercation
England set aside this week’s controversial distractions to restrict West Indies to a stop-start 288 for six as they try to close out a 4-0 Royal London Series win at the Ageas Bowl.
In the final match of this country’s longest cricket summer, Eoin Morgan’s men could perhaps be forgiven for trudging to the finish line – especially after the arrest of Ben Stokes on suspicion of causing actual bodily harm and his and Alex Hales’s suspension by the England and Wales Cricket Board from all future international fixtures until further notice.
It was therefore to their credit that, after winning the toss in a match delayed by morning rain, they limited the tourists to under 300 on a good pitch despite Shai Hope’s 72 from number three.
Chris Gayle took 15 balls to register his first run, a single to cover off Jake Ball, but he then briefly launched a remarkable sequence of hitting off the same bowler, registering five sixes in six balls spread over two overs.
England needed to get him quickly, and Tom Curran and Liam Plunkett had the answer with a brilliantly disguised back-of-the-hand slower ball from the debutant and then an athletic pressure catch, running and diving back from mid-off.
Plunkett doubled up with another outstanding catch, this time off his own bowling as he got down low to hold a Kyle Hope straight-drive with his left hand.
A curiously unproductive partnership followed between Shai Hope and Marlon Samuels in which they managed a solitary boundary between them from 122 deliveries.
There was no pay-off from Samuels, either, stumped on the charge at Moeen Ali, but Hope cashed in on two lives, dropped on 32 and 61 by Morgan and then Joe Root.
He finally hit his first four from his 78th ball and duly made it three in three – all to fine-leg off Curran, the second taking him past 50 – before eventually holing out on the cover boundary off Ball.
West Indies still had the resources to bag 115 runs in the last 12 overs to post a credible but far from daunting target.