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Cricket news - Adil Rashid a strong asset for England: Morgan
England captain Eoin Morgan says his team were "fortunate" to defeat West Indies at St George's in Grenada after a Chris Gayle-inspired home side nearly did the unthinkable and almost chased down England's mammoth target of 418 in the fourth One-Day International.
Centuries from Morgan and Jos Buttler had guided the tourists to the highest ever score against West Indies in an ODI in the Caribbean and restated England's credentials as the most destructive batting order in the world after a blip in game two in Barbados. It was an effort which looked to have put the game beyond West Indies but Gayle's brilliant 162 looked at one stage as if it would lead the home side to a remarkable victory. In the end, West Indies fell just 29 runs short as Adil Rashid took their last four wickets in the 48th over.
A strong breeze, short boundaries and a flat pitch aided the batting carnage but it was a quite brilliant game of cricket which ebbed and flowed and was in the balance until the last few overs. "It was a hell of a game," Morgan said at the post-match presentation. "We really did go toe to toe with West Indies today. We were very fortunate, particularly with that spell that Adil came back with, to get over the line because we were probably sitting in second position for the last 15 overs of the game. We needed something special and Adil produced that in his final over.
"Adil is a strong asset of ours. He has the ability to bowl anywhere in the 50 overs and particularly at the end, he poses a huge threat with his variations. He kept his calm. It wasn't easy to bowl to the short side, particularly to Chris Gayle, and then when he came on at the far end, he found really nice rhythm and found nice purchase off the pitch. That breeds confidence. To come back and bowl an over where he takes four wickets and wins us the game is outstanding."
Rashid wasn't the only bowler to impress. Mark Wood continued his good form with four top-order wickets but there were plenty of nervy moments in West Indies' chase, particularly when Gayle was at the crease. The West Indian opener proved that even at the age of 39, he is still to be feared and during this innings, he passed 10,000 ODI runs becoming just the second man from the Caribbean to achieve that feat, behind Brian Lara. Gayle was finally dismissed by Ben Stokes and although Carlos Brathwaite did his best to continue the fight with a quickfire half-century, West Indies just ran out of steam.
"We just needed wickets all the time," Buttler told Sky Sports. "You felt that if Chris Gayle batted for long enough they would win the game which is incredible when you have got 420 on the board. But we were trying to mix the bowlers. I thought Mark Wood was outstanding again, I thought he bowled fantastically well. I like the way Adil wants the ball in those situations and to be able to spin it both ways is tough to get after."
Because of its destructiveness, Buttler's seventh ODI century in the first innings somewhat overshadowed Morgan's own hundred, his 12th in this format. The pair put on 204 for the fourth wicket and in the process, Morgan became the first England player to pass 6,000 ODI runs. As their partnership developed, however, the left-hander increasingly became little more than a bystander as Buttler played one of the great one-day innings.
England's wicket-keeper was finally dismissed in the 50th over for 150 off 77 deliveries but that doesn't tell the whole story. His second fifty came off just 15 balls and his third off just 16 as he put West Indies' bowlers to the sword to the tune of 12 sixes and 13 boundaries. In all, England scored 154 runs from the final ten overs, the most they have ever scored in ODI cricket, and amassed 24 sixes, a new world record.
"It was really special, I really enjoyed it," Buttler said. "When you feel like you get into that zone and you try to continue it, it was pleasing. I had a chat with Joe Root earlier and asked him what he felt a decent score was. He said north of 350 so knowing that is in the back of your mind, going in at five today, it felt like with 12 or 13 overs to go, we were both set and it was really time to kick on."
After Alex Hales, in the side for the injured Jason Roy, and Jonny Bairstow had got England off to a flier, putting on 100 for the first wicket, Buttler was promoted above Stokes in the order to keep a right and left hand combination at the crease. It is the sort of flexibility that Morgan's team has displayed before and it worked perfectly today. "That's one of the strengths of the team," Buttler said. "There are no egos and lots of guys are happy to bat in a multitude of positions. That really helps."
"Collectively we batted brilliantly," added Morgan. "It started at the top with Bairstow and Hales who were excellent and got us off to a flying start and laid a platform to allow myself and Jos to build a partnership. Jos is built like a champion racehorse and when he gets into his stride, he's very difficult to stop. Watching him in full flow today was exceptional and gave us the best chance of going out and putting on a really strong score."
England lead the series 2-1 with the fifth and final match in St Lucia to come on Saturday. Whatever the result there, West Indies, ranked ninth in the world to England's top billing, have provided the tourists with a sterner test than many observers might have expected before the series started. Ahead of the World Cup, however, that is no bad thing for Morgan's men. "Tonight was such a close game, it really could have gone either way," England's captain said. "The more games that we play under pressure, keep calm and keep producing is a real good positive for us."
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