West Indies cruise to Twenty20 win
The thick crowd brought back the Mexican wave and Ramnaresh Sarwan gave them shots galore in yesterday's one-off Twenty20 International bash at the Queen's Park Oval.
In full flow from the start, Sarwan produced another Man-of-the-Match performance, in the form of his 20/20-best 59 off 46 balls to power the West Indies to a six-wicket victory over England to give Denesh Ramdin a debut to remember as captain.
Standing in for the injured Chris Gayle, wicketkeeper Ramdin had little to do himself as first his bowlers and fielders did the business, dismissing the Englishmen for a modest 121 inside their allotted 20 overs. Then, Sarwan made the run chase a party as West Indies got to their target with two overs to spare.
The confidence gathered from his prolific run in the just-concluded Test series between the sides allowed him to play the kind of free-flowing knock no other player on either side was able to match.
After Andre Fletcher--one of several changes from the Test team--was removed by Stuart Broad via a Dimitri Mascarenhas catch on the square-leg boundary and Shivnarine Chanderpaul top-edged a catch to point as he drove at James Anderson, Sarwan laid the platform for victory with Lendl Simmons.
They shared in a 60-run stand for the third wicket.
Simmons, somewhat pedestrian with his unbeaten 23 off 32 balls, was nevertheless a good foil for his senior partner.
The party crowd was already up for anything and Sarwan wowed them with his wristy play and confident hitting. They especially enjoyed it when he took two quick, nimble steps out to seamer James Anderson and lifted him for a straight six that bounced off the Gerry Gomez Media Centre.
Off-spinner Gareth Batty also got the treatment, carted into the crowd at long-on, two stands down, later on.
By then, England were paying for Amjad Khan dropping a regulation catch running in from long-off when Sarwan was 38.
Eventually, Khan himself bowled Sarwan as he swung wildly for another boundary to add to his four fours and two sixes. But by then, West Indies needed just 17 more from 26 balls.
A rusty Dwayne Bravo (eight) on his long-awaited return to the side and Kieron Pollard with a first-ball boundary helped Simmons seal the deal.
But, in effect, the hardest work had been done in the field after Ramdin had won the toss and sent England to bat.
From the time Lionel Baker with the new ball smacked Ravi Bopara's middle stump with the first ball of the fourth over, the England decline was as unrelenting as the cloud cover over the Oval.
The visitors just could not get a good partnership going as they lost batsman after batsman.
The best effort was 30 for the second wicket, produced by opener/wicketkeeper Steve Davies (27, 21 balls, five fours) and Kevin Petersen (12, 16 balls).
Davies, however, became the first victim for Bravo on his return to international cricket after eight months. It took him just seven balls.
Delivering seven wides in four overs that cost 34 runs, Bravo still managed to clip Davies' leg-stump as the batsman made too much room trying for leg-side runs in the eighth over.
Pietersen, outstanding last week when he made a second innings century in the drawn fifth Test, was perhaps on the wrong end of an lbw decision won by left-arm spinner Sulieman Benn from umpire Norman Malcolm in the ninth.
And just after the innings had crossed the half-way mark, England lost their fourth wicket at 82 when Owais Shah, looking to deposit Benn over long-on, only found Pollard on the boundary.
Ramdin's six bowlers all did some kind of job for him, with big Benn (4-0-24-3) being the best at combining relative economy with wickets.
The Windies fielders also starred. The ground fielding was energetic and refreshingly sharp. And Sarwan and Chanderpaul accounted for the run outs of Dimitri Mascarenhas (zero), skipper Andrew Strauss (22, 25 balls, two fours) and Batty (four).
Batty's was the most spectacular, Sarwan striking the stumps at the bowler's end direct from mid-off as Batty attempted a single off Fidel Edwards.
And Edwards it was who eventually finished off the innings with five balls remaining when Stuart Broad slapped him straight to Benn at cover.
England hadn't really come to the fete.
They left it to "Sars" to put on the show.