Alex Hales obliterated the West Indies hopes of a consolation win in today’s one-off T20 International as he demolished the visitors’ bowling attack before he was sadly out on 99 (68b, 6×4, 4×6). Playing on his home ground, Hales timed the ball incredibly and guided his side to a very well measured chase of a daunting 173-run target.
The two Dwaynes (Smith made 70 and Bravo 54) took WI to a fighting total of 172/4 and when a seemingly out-of-form Kieswetter (3 runs) holed out on the boundary as England stuttered in the third over of the chase, it looked as though they might get on the plane for Miami slightly cheered up by a T20 win after a tour where they lost every international match. But a 159-run partnership between Hales and Ravi Bopara (59 runs, 44b, 4×4, 1×6) in good time led England to a seven-wicket win with two balls to spare.
Nottinghamshire teammate Stuart Broad said Hales was distraught at not getting a hundred in front of the Notts faithful but this was an innings to be proud of for not only did Hales help his side to victory, he announced his name audibly to the cricketing world. His score was easily the highest in a T20 International by an Englishman – beating Eoin Morgan’s 85 vs South Africa in 2009, and was the seventh highest in T20 International history. He is the first batsman to be dismissed on exactly 99 in the format.
Steven Finn’s 4/22 from four overs was worthy of note as the bowler combined well his talents of speed and accuracy and took the important wickets of Chris Gayle (2 runs, 8 balls) and Dwane Smith (70, 54b, 5×4, 5×6). Jade Dernbach (0/46) was on the receiving end of some tap from Kieron Pollard (23, 13b, 1×4, 2×6) and Smith as the pair clobbered his last death-spell of two overs for 33 runs.
Good weather and an even better playing surface made for an environment conducive to entertaining cricket -something English fans have not been treated to much of so far this summer – and the near-capacity crowd did not have leave the ground disappointed as the home-side won an exciting match that went to the final over.
This Friday England begin a five-match ODI series against Australia and they then play three Tests against South Africa, starting at the Oval on 19 July. After a damp season thus far, perhaps the summer is heating up after all.