In-Form Sarwan Keeps West Indies In Winning Mood

Ramnaresh Sarwan, continuing his rich vein of form from the just-concluded Digicel Test Series, hit a stroke-filled 59 off 46 balls here Sunday to guide an effervescent West Indies team to a comfortable six-wicket victory over England in the one-off Digicel Twenty20 International at the Queen’s Park Oval.

Sarwan was also to the fore in the field, affecting two of the three run outs that helped limit the visitors to a below-par 121 all out off 19.1 overs. Left-arm spinner Sulieman Benn was also an England tormentor with three for 24 off four overs.

The 28-year-old Sarwan, opening the batting, decorated his match-winning innings with four fours and two sixes and earned the Man of the Match award as the West Indies got home at 123 for four off 18 overs.

Lendl Simmons offered sensible support in an unbeaten 23 that spanned 32 balls.

The West Indies stand-in captain Denesh Ramdin won the toss but would have been concerned as England got off to a boundary-studded start through openers Steve Davies and Ravi Bopara.

Bopara lost his middle stump to Lionel Baker at 25-1 but the visitors were well placed at 47-1 at the completion of the six overs of field restriction.

Left-hander Davies, in his first international match, supplied a busy topscore of 27 off 21 balls with five fours.

Once he and England’s champion batsman Kevin Pietersen fell in successive overs, the innings subsided meekly.

Davies came too far across his stumps and was bowled by the returning Dwayne Bravo while Pietersen (12) was unlucky to be LBW to Benn at 66-3 after nine overs.

Owais Shah (4) and Paul Collingwood (14) tried to up the tempo but perished doing so as the West Indies tightened their grip.

Shah holed out to Kieron Pollard at long-off while Collingwood’s top-edged swipe was well held by Simmons running in from deep midwicket.

Those two catches were comfortable enough but the hosts fielding got even more dynamic shortly afterwards when three run outs pretty much sealed the fate of the innings.

Dimitri Mascarenhas, England’s big-hitter in the absence of Andrew Flintoff, hesitated and was run out by Sarwan’s swift swoop and return to an alert Darren Sammy, the bowler.

Captain Andrew Strauss, who tried to rebuild in 22 off 25 balls, was undone by a brilliant pick-up and return from Shivnarine Chanderpaul.

Sarwan capped the dazzling fielding display with a direct hit from square on that removed Gareth Batty (4).

The tail-enders Stuart Broad and Amjad Khan were dismissed towards the end as England could not see out their quota of overs.

Khan was bowled by Benn while Broad lamely swatted Fidel Edwards to extra cover.

The West Indies had an early wobble when Andre Fletcher (6) clipped Broad to Mascarenhas at deep square leg at 11-1.

But Sarwan shared assured partnerships of 34 with Shivnarine Chanderpaul (12) and 60 with Simmons that sealed the deal.

Sarwan eventually fell with victory in sight, bowled by Khan as he tried to finish with a flourish.

His dismissal did give the sell-out local crowd the chance to see Bravo bat but the star all-rounder was dismissed just before the end, pulling Khan to square leg.

Two Trinidadians were there at the end, however, as Kieron Pollard smashed his first ball for four to spark scenes of celebration.