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England vs West Indies: England Cruise To Win

By on June 4, 2009

icc world twenty20  Luke Wright

England 145 for 1 (Wright 75*, Bopara 60) beat West Indies 144 for 6 (Sarwan 46*) by nine wickets

England finally settled on their opening partnership to lead them into the ICC World Twenty tournament after Luke Wright and Ravi Bopara smashed them to a nine-wicket warm-up victory over West Indies at Lord’s.

Since playing their inaugural Twenty20 international against Australia four years ago, England have tried 11 different pairings at the top of the order with little success in 15 matches.

But in their final warm-up match before the start of the tournament on Friday, Wright and Bopara settled any issues with a 119-run stand off only 76 balls to secure a thrashing.

It was a brutal response to West Indies’ total of 144-6, which they passed with 32 balls remaining, and provided the most emphatic signal of intent by an England side growing in confidence and belief that they can upset expectations and challenge in this tournament.

Their display was all the more remarkable because there were doubts whether Sussex all-rounder Wright, who finished unbeaten on 75 from 48 balls, was best suited at the top of the order and if his clean hitting would be better towards the end of the innings.

Those questions were answered in style after Wright overcome eight deliveries without scoring at the start of his innings to hit eight fours and five sixes, including three successive sixes off Kieron Pollard during an over which cost 22.

ICC regulations state none of the warm-up matches for this tournament are regarded as full internationals which leaves Wright’s 65-run partnership with Phil Mustard in Christchurch last year as England’s highest opening stand in a Twenty20 international.

But their dominance over West Indies tonight was so complete that it would be a surprise if do not overhaul it during the next few weeks of this tournament if England are able to sustain a challenge into the latter stages.

Essex all-rounder Bopara was the driving force at the start of England’s innings as Wright struggled for timing and fluency and hit Dwayne Bravo for three fours in an over.

But once Wright found his timing he delivered a brilliantly destructive innings, scoring his 31 runs off 11 balls to reach his half-century shortly before his opening partner.

Bopara, dropped on 29 by Sulieman Benn at mid-wicket off Bravo, finally holed out in the deep for a brilliant 60 off 35 balls, a setback which only seemed to strengthen Wright’s determination to finish the job off as quickly as possible.

Their performances justified England’s decision to give them a second successive run out together rather than look at Kent’s Rob Key, who sat out the Scotland match on the previous day, and decide on their best option for Friday’s opening match against Holland.

England’s faith was also rewarded in 21-year-old leg-spinner Adil Rashid, who had been hammered for 31 runs in only three overs during the six wickets triumph over Scotland at Trent Bridge, but responded to his inclusion today with a far more impressive display.

Yorkshire prospect Rashid began nervously again when he was introduced in the seventh over of West Indies’ innings and bowled a leg-side wide with his first delivery, but quickly found the right line and length to claim 1-20 from his four overs.

Rashid made an impact from an early stage of the game, helping to run out opener Andre Fletcher when he backed up to far with his throw from third man in the fifth over and Pollard ran himself out in his first over.

He built on that success by claiming the key scalp of all-rounder Dwayne Bravo, who was caught at long on trying to hit over the top after becoming frustrated by Rashid’s accuracy.

His impressive spell capped another eye-catching display from England in the field as they build up to Friday’s opening match of the tournament against Holland at Lord’s.

West Indies would have been encouraged by an impressive unbeaten 46 off 34 balls from Ramnaresh Sarwan, who was batting at No 6 to give other players experience of batting up the order, which guided them to a respectable total.

Their line-up was also weakened by captain Chris Gayle, their most influential Twenty20 player, sitting out the match to allow Denesh Ramdin to lead the side in his absence, but he was unable to change the fortunes of a side who have lost every completed match against England on this tour.

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