T20 World Cup: England revives title defence with victory over West Indies

England's Phil Salt hugs teammate Jonathan Bairstow after defeating West Indies in their T20 World Cricket match at the Darren Sammy National Cricket Stadium, Gros Islet, Saint Lucia on June 19, 2024.

England’s Phil Salt hugs teammate Jonathan Bairstow after defeating the West Indies in their T20 World Cup cricket match at the Darren Sammy National Cricket Stadium, Gros Islet, St. Lucia, June 19, 2024. | Photo credit: AP

Phil Salt’s 87 from 47 balls helped England reach the target of 181 by eight wickets

Defending champions England put their difficulties in the opening stages of the Twenty20 World Cup aside with an eight-wicket victory over the previously unbeaten West Indies in their Super Eight opener in St Lucia on Wednesday.

England’s bowlers restricted West Indies to 180-4 on the same pitch on which the co-hosts scored 218 against Afghanistan on Monday, before opener Phil Salt took the lead with 87 from 47 balls and the batters did their job in 18 overs.

Having narrowly fought their way into the second round on the strength of their net run rate, victory over one of the tournament’s in-form teams will be a huge confidence boost and England will now joint top of Group 2 with South Africa, who they face at the same ground on Friday.

“I think we did a really good job of keeping such a strong batting line-up in check,” said England captain Jos Buttler.

“It’s still a decent result and you have to play well to catch them. But I thought we were very clever with the bat.”

A close encounter between the only two teams to have won the T20 World Cup twice was to be expected, and the victory was largely down to England’s bowlers, who prevented the hard-hitting locals from gaining a lead.

After winning the toss and electing to field, they served 51 dot balls and took regular wickets in the second half of the innings to prevent any of the West Indian batters from reaching the half-century mark.

“I think we scored 15-20 runs as a batting group and we could have done better with the ball,” said West Indian captain Rovman Powell.

“You have to give credit to the English bowling team. You can see that they have killer plans and they execute them well.”

A groin injury ended opener Brandon King’s night on 23, but the West Indies would still have been confident of a high score as they reached the halfway point of their innings on 82 for no loss.

But just as they tried to pick up the tempo, the other opening batsman, Johnson Charles, fell into a trap and was bowled by Moeen Ali in the deep for 38.

The dangerous Nicholas Pooran and Powell both scored 36 before being dismissed in consecutive overs. Andre Russell scored in the next over to leave West Indies 143-4 in the 17th over.

Sherfane Rutherford (28 not out) and Romario Shepherd added another 37 runs, but England will have been confident this was an achievable target, especially after Salt and Buttler scored 67 for the first wicket.

Buttler was caught in front by Roston Chase’s off-spin for 25 runs, but Salt kept the runs coming before Jonny Bairstow joined him.

Salt initially let Bairstow (48 not out) take the strike, but hit three sixes and three fours for 30 against Shepherd in the 16th over, effectively ending the comeback.

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