England captain Eoin Morgan has praised Adil Rashid’s skill and courage after he brought a decisive end to one of the great one-day internationals.
Fans in Grenada witnessed an unforgettable contest as England and the West Indies combined to score 807 runs, 46 sixes and 64 boundaries in a relentless display of power-hitting.
A first-innings score of 418 for six, powered by Jos Buttler’s career-best 150 and Morgan’s fine 103, was ultimately enough for the tourists but not before some major scares.
The indomitable Chris Gayle heaved his way to 162 and a late rally from all-rounders Carlos Brathwaite and Ashley Nurse threatened to finish the job.
The pair needed 32 from 18 balls when Rashid stepped up to bowl the 48th over, with bruising figures of one for 83 from his previous nine.
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The leg-spinner showed laser focus with the game in the balance, removing both set batsmen, Devendra Bishoo and Oshane Thomas in the space of just five deliveries to spark jubilant celebrations and 29-run win.
“He’s brilliant, it’s one thing making the decision to bring someone on but to come on be so calm and produce under pressure is a really brilliant skill,” said Morgan.
“He was always going to bowl one of the last three but the previous overs had gone for a few and it forced my hand to bring him on in that over. When they’re coming hard you want your best bowlers bowling.
“If he takes two wickets it brings us right back in the game and flips it on its head but to finish the game in that over is really incredible.
“For Adil to come back like that shows a huge amount of character.”
Gayle can count himself unfortunate to be on the losing side after a remarkable knock that brought the second highest chase in ODI history in to sight.
It remains to be seen whether there is any substance to his post-match hint about reconsidering his scheduled retirement but he was still able to savour a contest that stands out among the more memorable in his 20 years of service.
“I think this is one of the most entertaining games I’ve ever played in,” Gayle said.
“It was a good game of cricket…how many sixes? It was fantastic. If we had been a bit smarter, we could have got over the line there but have to give credit where it’s due.
“Everyone knows what Jos Buttler is capable of. He’s one of the best strikers in world cricket. He’s a dangerous guy who can win a game. I wish him well, though not in the next game.”
The tourists now hold a 2-1 lead heading to the final ODI in St Lucia on Saturday.
Avoiding defeat would allow them to boast a 10th successive series win, a fine run punctured by their shock loss to Scotland last June.
David Willey and Joe Denly have yet to feature and may be considered as England attempt to keep all of their options open in the run-up to the World Cup.
Checks will also be made on Jason Roy, who missed Wednesday’s run-fest after reporting tightness in his left hamstring.
The Surrey opener is due to miss the three Twenty20s which wrap up the tour, returning home for the birth of his first child, and may be given leave to exit early if the hamstring problem does not clear.