Salt assault leads England to smooth eight-wicket win over WI

| | Gros Islet (Saint Lucia)
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Salt assault leads England to smooth eight-wicket win over WI

Thursday, 20 June 2024 | PTI | Gros Islet (Saint Lucia)

Salt assault leads England to smooth eight-wicket win over WI

Opener Phil Salt slammed a belligerent unbeaten 87 as defending champions England began their T20 World Cup Super Eights campaign with a crushing eight-wicket win over co-hosts West Indies here.

Coming off a scorching display against Afghanistan, West Indies amassed a competitive 180 for four, but England waltzed to 181 for two in 17.3 overs in their Group 2 match.

Salt led the Three Lions' charge with a bruising innings that came off 47 balls with seven fours and five sixes. The right-hander received copious help from Jonny Bairstow (48 not out, 26b, 5x4, 2x6).

But equal amount of credit should be given to the English bowlers for producing as many as 51 dot balls with Jofra Archer (1/34) and Adil Rashid (1/21) accounting for 22 of them in their tidy spells after Jos Buttler opted to bowl.

Their win with 15 balls to spare took the net run-rate of England to 1.343, putting them ahead of South Africa who posted a win over tournament co-hosts USA earlier on Wednesday.

"That's a really good performance from us, we executed well with both bat and ball. I thought we bowled really well to restrict such a powerful batting line-up, still we had to chase it down, but smart play from us. The partnership between Salt and Bairstow was great," England skipper Jos Buttler said.

WI now have a negative NRR -1.343 which may be a worry for them as they will have two must win matches against the USA and South Africa coming their way.

"When you look from the batting perspective, we were 15-20 runs short. We could have given a better display with the ball," felt WI skipper Rovman Powell.

On Brandon King's injury, Powell said: "Just a bit worried, but hopefully, he can pull through for the next game."

Salt made full use of his reprieve by Nicholas Pooran on seven to cart the Windies bowlers around in the company of Bairstow as the Englishmen together milked 97 runs from 44 balls for the third wicket, while negotiating the hosts' spin attack in the middle overs.

After a sedate start, England broke loose in the second over when Buttler struck two boundaries off Romario Sheperd to take 12 runs.

Akeal Hosein created an early chance but Pooran's drop proved costly as Salt began his destruction job, hammering an Andre Russell slower one for a six.

The duo continued their assault and Salt finished the power play smashing Alzarri Joseph for a four and a six to lift England to 58 for no loss in six overs, the best powerplay score by any team against the Caribbeans in this tournament.

Off-spinner Roston Chase finally gave the breakthrough when he noticed Buttler stepping forward and speared in a 108.9 kph delivery to catch him off guard. The ball hit him hard and low on the front pad to be trapped leg before

In that period, England lost two wickets in 15 balls.

Just when he was looking dangerous, Moeen Ali (13; 10b) was dismissed by Russell by a smart change of bowling by the Windies skipper.

Salt too started slowing down and England, at 111/2, needed 70 runs from 42 balls. But Bairstow upped the ante, smashing Alzarri Joseph and Hosein to swing the momentum.

Buttler smashed Joseph for back-to-back four and six, and in the next over hammered Hosein for two fours and one six.

From thereon, Salt killed the contest, hitting three sixes and three fours in a 30-run 16th over bowled by Romario Shepherd.

Earlier, Windies got off to a splendid start as Brandon King and Johnson Charles opened with authority. The pair had Windies flying at 40 for no loss in the fifth over, before they were hit with a cruel blow.

Attempting to drive Sam Curran down the ground, King (23; 13b) picked up what appeared to be a side strain and had to retire hurt.

The in-form Pooran joined Charles at the crease, lifting them to 54 in the power-play Pooran smoked Mark Wood for a leg-side six to start the eighth over, but England managed to tighten the screws after the drinks.

That was the final boundary before the mid-innings break.

Charles then ended a brief lull by smashing Rashid for a six.

But in the next over, England struck with Moeen Ali dismissing Charles (38; 34b), who holed out to Harry Brook at long-on.

Captain Powell took on off-spinner Ali with a maximum and went on to smash Liam Livingstone for three sixes in five balls in a 20-run over.

But Livingstone had the last laugh, picking up the crucial wicket of Powell (36 off 17) off his last delivery.

The English found some fight in the final five overs.

Archer found the edge of Pooran's bat, as the heavy hitter removed for 36 off 32. Rutherford then dominated the strike in the last few overs to lift their total but that was not enough for them.

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