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by Mick the Ram
The third One Day international was won by the West Indies as they secured a 2-1 series victory over England, in Barbados.
In a game that was reduced to first of all 43, then 40 and finally 34 overs per side because of rain, both teams at certain stages appeared to have the upper-hand, but it was the home side who gained control at the crucial point of the match, to eventually seal the win relatively easily by four wickets, with 14 balls to spare.
Debutant Matthew Forde, was named player of the match for his exceptional opening spell of bowling, which proved to be pivotal to the games’ outcome, with England’s 206-9 always looking to be short of a winning score, despite an impressive knock from Ben Duckett.
It was the West Indies first ODI series win over a full-member nation since March 2021 and their first over England in the format since 1998.
The sides now begin a five-match T20 series with the first game due to start also in Barbados, on Tuesday 12 December.
After winning the opener in stunning fashion, the West Indies lost the second game heavily, setting up this third game as the decider. With an inexperienced team operating without the services of the likes of: Kieron Pollard, Sunil Narine, Odean Smith, Andre Fletcher, Nicholas Pooran, and Andre Russell – who were all involved in the T10 tournament in Abu Dhabi – there had been plenty of encouraging signs in the first two games in Antigua.
Prior to the start of this fixture they had won six and lost eight of their 14 ODI’s against England at the Kensington Oval. The players took to the field wearing black arm bands in remembrance of Joe Solomon, the former Guyana and West Indies batter who sadly passed away earlier in the day.
The West Indies skipper Shai Hope won the toss and elected to bowl first, but play was delayed for two hours after rain soaked the outfield. Local boy, 21-year-old Matthew Forde made a dream start, dismissing Phil Salt with his 5th delivery. He came off his first spell with wonderful figures of 3-18 from six overs, as England collapsed to 49-5.
Total looking below par
Ben Duckett, in company with Liam Livingstone, fashioned a recovery taking the score up to 137 before falling to a mistimed drive, and his partner followed shortly after. Captain Jos Buttler fell first ball and it needed some late-order big-hitting from Gus Atkinson and Nick Potts to get the total up to a respectable 206-9.
However, a further shower meant the required score was amended to 188 from 34 overs and Brandon King went early to put the West Indies chase behind the rate, but Alick Athanaze and Keacy Carty steadied things and without taking any risks, eased the score up to 78, before Athanaze was leg before, bringing the skipper out to the middle.
He was looking in ominous form smashing Rehan Ahmed for a straight six, but clipped the next delivery to mid-wicket, leaving him just three runs short of over-taking legendary Gordon Greenidge in the all-time top ten list of West Indies run-scorers.
One good over changes things West Indies way
At the other end, Carty was batting nicely and completed a classy fifty, but part-time bowler Will Jacks then seemed to have wrestled the initiative back in England’s favour with three quick wickets in an excellent spell of 3-22 in seven overs and helping to reduce the home side to 135-6.
Going into the last four overs, 33 were still needed, but six balls later the contest was as good as over with Romario Shepherd and Forde smashing 24 off the unfortunate Atkinson.
Shepherd finished the game with a boundary to take his score to 41 and give the West Indies a deserved victory and a huge boost.