England finished with a series win in Antigua on Wednesday after an enthralling one-day victory over West Indies. Chasing 303, the hosts battled bravely but were all out for 278 with just two overs left to play.
After winning the toss, West Indies elected to put England into bat and it soon looked to be the right decision.
Despite not being troubled in the opening half-dozen overs, the match turned in the hosts' favour in the space of two balls in the seventh over of the day.
A fairly loose delivery from DJ Bravo still tempted Michael Lumb, whose shot fell into the grateful hands of Sunil Narine.
Rapidly building a name for himself in English cricket, Ben Stokes strode confidently to the crease but was instantly dispatched for a duck by Bravo.
The short ball was unexpected, and Stokes top-edged to Ravi Rampaul. The 35 without loss became 37 for 2 and placed an entirely different complexion on the game.
Things got no better for England in those early stages. New man Joe Root needed extensive treatment after just one over, a ferocious ball in from Rampaul hitting him full on the right thumb.
Five Live's Adam Mountford detailed Ashley Giles' concern.
The England coach Ashley Giles says he doesn't know why ball was changed and admits that Joe Root injury is "a big worry" #WIvENG— Adam Mountford (@tmsproducer) March 5, 2014
After making the decision to continue, Root gingerly made an unbeaten 7, joining opener Moeen Ali (also unbeaten on 23) before rain stopped play with England on 52 for 2.
|Lumb||c Narine||b DJ Bravo||20||26|
|Stokes||c Rampaul||b DJ Bravo||0||1|
|Root||c DM Bravo||b DJ Bravo||107||122|
|Extras||(lb 5, w 8, nb 2||15|
|Total||(6 wickets; 50 overs)||303|
The break brought England some respite from a confident West Indies attack, but when play resumed, Root—somewhat ominously for the hosts—was quickly into his stride.
Backed up well by Ali, England brought up the 100 in the 20th over of the day, although both were lucky to still be at the crease, Root having been dropped by Dinesh Ramjam on 23 and Denesh Ramdin bungling the run out of Ali in the next over.
Ali would soon fall, however, and England's 113 for 2 quickly became 116 for 3 as Morgan was clean bowled by Narine for one.
In came Jos Buttler with 26 overs to play, and from then on he and Root really got to it.
Both played some exquisite strokes over the next 20 overs, with Root fully deserving his century.
West Indies captain Bravo simply had no answers to the excellence of the young batsmen.
Eng starting on the road back? Joe Root celebrates his century http://t.co/ES7lROtel6— Danny Maher (@DocSynth) March 5, 2014
With two overs left to play, a reverse sweep by Root was poorly executed and Darren Bravo took a simple catch. Buttler soon followed just one run shy of his century, but he and Root had left England in a commanding position.
Ravi Bopara and Tim Bresnan added six between them setting the hosts a target of 304.
|Smith||c Ali||b Broad||9||4|
|Darren Bravo||c Bopara||b Ali||16||20|
|Samuels||c Buttler||b Parry||23||39|
|Dwayne Bravo||c Buttler||b Bopara||27||32|
|Sammy||c Stokes||b Bresnan||24||35|
|Miller||c sub (CJ Jordan)||b Bresnan||10||17|
|Extras||(b 3, lb 6, w 5)||14|
|Total||(all out; 47.4 overs)||278|
After starring with the bat, Root opened the bowling and was soon amongst the wickets.
Opener Kieran Powell's wild swing was unnecessary, and the hosts had lost their first wicket before the end of the first over (10 for 1).
Without adding to the score, Broad sent Dwayne Smith packing, a nice catch by Ali leaving the West Indies rocking.
Bravo and Simmons settled things down, and whilst you would hardly describe their knocks as brave, both batsmen looked comfortable and were taming the fearsome bowling of Broad and erratic Root with ease.
A change was required, and it paid immediate dividends with Ali having Bravo brilliantly caught by Bopara for 16.
Outstanding catch by Ravi to bring Mo his first wicket of the match. Darren Bravo c Bopara b Ali for 16. West Indies 42-3 after 7 overs.— Worcestershire CCC (@WorcsCCC) March 5, 2014
By this point the score had moved on for 42-3. An unsuccessful review was immediately followed by Simmons dragging onto his stumps from a fine Broad delivery.
Runs then became painfully slow to come by.
With Samuels and Ramdin at the crease, only eight runs were added in the next four overs.
Ticking along nicely, Parry enticed Samuels into the slightest of edges. Given out by the umpire, Samuels asked for the review but it was in vain. England had their fifth wicket and were still 223 ahead.
Enter Dwayne Bravo to really ramp up the pace. He had contributed a quick-fire 27 out of 51 before heading back to the pavilion.
Sammy trudged out and immediately struck up some sort of harmony with Ramdin, who was slowly crawling toward a century.
The partnership was worth 57 from just 49 balls, but Bresnan brought it to an abrupt end as he removed Sammy for 24 and with 10 overs remaining.
Two dropped catches from Stokes and Broad, and Ramdin's century with six overs left to play, gave the West Indies hope of pulling off a remarkable victory in a game that seemed dead and buried a few overs beforehand.
Narine's run out for one barely registered as Ramdin brought the crowd to their feet with 28 in just four overs, but a full delivery from Bresnan that tore the batsman's off-stump out of the ground ended West Indian hopes.
It's hardly the most inspiring of series wins, but it's possibly a platform for England to build from in the future.