Moeen Ali leads England to win to set up series decider

Moeen Ali led from the front with bat and ball as England sent their Twenty20 tie against the West Indies to a decider on Sunday following a 34-run win at Kensington Oval.

The England deputy captain, deputizing following Eoin Morgan’s series-ending injury, scored seven of England’s 15 sixes in a brilliant 28-ball 63 as the Tourists added 59 in the final three overs to post 193 of six.

It was an explosive end to the innings, with Jason Holder beaten for four straight sixes by Moeen, who contributed an impressive two-for-28 as the Windies fell 159-for-five short in reply in Barbados.

The hosts needed 61 of the last 24 balls, but Chris Jordan returned along with Sam Billings after missing Wednesday’s loss, and Reece Topley held his own in the face of death to ensure the five-game series went to the end.

Moeen stood out, propelling England forward after Kieron Pollard used his persistent cuts and lengths on a slow pitch to stifle England, who also thanked Jason Roy’s 52-for-42 ball at the top of the order.

Roy benefited from Holder bringing him down for three in the second over to share an 85-run position alongside James Vince, who contributed 34 of 26 balls after England were invited to bat first.

While Holder couldn’t hold on after stretching out his right hand to catch a return early innings from Roy, the former Windies captain was in business later in his first over when Tom Banton dressed midway through.

England were stuck in the mud at 15 for one of four overs, but Roy exploited the shorter limit on the side, clearing Greenidge and Haynes Stand before hitting another six as England finished the power play in a healthier position.

He hit a 34-ball, 50-ball shot before Pollard applied the brakes. Pollard’s expert cuts and lengths were frustrating England batsmen and Roy’s attempt at bat only reached a bottom edge when he was caught from behind.

Then Vince missed a wider delivery from Akeal Hosein to the third short man and now he has only half a century in 16 T20 caps.

Liam Livingstone belatedly brought Pollard out of midwicket but the 4-0-23-1 figures were exceptional as England sat at 134 for three from 17 overs, having added just 54 of the previous 48 deliveries. Moeen, who had dragged 20 of his first 16 balls, decided to go after Holder and the ploy worked electrically.

His first six had enough to cross the shortest limit, but the next three sailed over the rope as he pulled out a 23-ball half-century. He celebrated with another pair of exquisitely timed sixes and as he holed out in the final over as Holder got some revenge, Sam Billings blasted the last two deliveries for maxes.

England might have had more than the wide eight they received, with some questionable calls in their innings, but they were under pressure as the Windies raced to 56 unbeaten from six overs, with Kyle Mayers scoring his series opener with some brutal strikes. when England bowlers initially got the line and length wrong.

Moeen shared the new ball with Topley, but was hit squarely by Mayers in each of his first two overs, who took 16 in three deliveries to the wayward Tymal Mills, including a bold ramp for a second successive six.

Adil Rashid was a calming influence from then on. With neither Mayers nor Brandon King willing to take any chances against Rashid, they were caught deep for 40 and 26 respectively trying to go big against Moeen before England’s leading player produced a googly through Rovman Powell’s door, who did a ton last time.

Thus, a no-loss 64 position became 78 times three and the sell rate was hovering over 15 when Pooran opened his shoulders against Livingstone. There were two powerful sixes to the side of the leg, but Pooran sent a wider, flatter delivery long.

Holder chased Rashid with two side cuts for six when he hit 30 for the first time in an international T20. A grandstand finish seemed to be on the cards, but Jordan, who has come under scrutiny for how he has recently pitched in the back of the innings, was sensational as he gave up just seven in the 17th.

He then took the borderline catch that saw Holder ejected for 36 from Topley as the Windies’ challenge ran out.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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