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Flintoff Hat-Trick Sinks West Indies As England Claim Digicel ODI Series Win

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England’s effervescent all-rounder Andrew Flintoff claimed an emphatic hat-trick on his way to career-best five for 19 here Friday to help sink the West Indies and deliver a 26-run victory in a rain-abbreviated decisive 5th and final Digicel One-Day International at Beausejour Stadium.

The visitors claimed their first-ever series win in the Caribbean as they lifted the Digicel Trophy by a 3-2 score-line.

Heavy overnight and early morning rain left the Beausejour outfield waterlogged and caused a four-hour delay that reduced the match to a 29-overs-per-side contest.

England, lifted by a series-best top-score of 48 from ace Kevin Pietersen totaled 172 for five off 29 overs.

Opener Ravi Bopara contributed a useful 44 while Paul Collingwood (35 not out) and Matt Prior (25 not out) supplied late order acceleration.

Left-arm spinner Sulieman Benn took two for 23 while medium pacer Kieron Pollard grabbed two for 31.

The West Indies lost inspirational captain Chris Gayle for a duck and despite gutsy contributions from Dwayne Bravo (33) and Pollard (30), stuttered to 146 all out off 28 overs and a heavy defeat in front of a sell-out crowd of 16,000.

Flintoff removed Lendl Simmons and Ramnaresh Sarwan in an impressive first spell but his exclamation mark came with a late hat-trick to seal the win.

Denesh Ramdin came too far across his stumps and deflected onto leg stump, Ravi Rampaul was plumb leg before wicket to a full toss while Sulieman Benn’s ambitious stroke was breached by a yorker that rattled the stumps.

Flintoff got creditable support from James Anderson, who removed Gayle on his way to two for 34. Stuart Broad and Paul Collingwood also supplied key middle-order wickets.

After the lengthy delay, the West Indies began encouragingly after Gayle won the toss and inserted the tourists.

Andrew Strauss, eventually voted Man of the Series, fell cheaply as he miscued Ravi Rampaul’s first delivery to midwicket.

Bopara and Pietersen quickly dulled the home team’s mood in a restorative stand of 80 off 85 balls that anchored the innings.

Pietersen was in sight of a half century when he carved Benn to backward point where local boy Darren Sammy dived forward to scoop up a juggled, but questionable, catch. The right-hander hit four fours and a six off 48 balls.

England further slumped when Bopara fell to Pollard and Owais Shah and Flintoff perished cheaply.

Bopara, who hit two fours and two sixes, skied a swing to leg while Shah holed out off Benn and Flintoff chipped Pollard to midwicket where Shivnarine Chanderpaul held an awesome diving catch.

The West Indies crowd was delighted at 112 for five in the 21st over.

But Collingwood and Prior sensibly guided their team through the fag end of the innings.

Collingwood lashed two fours and a six off 31 balls while Prior hit three boundaries off 25 deliveries.

The West Indies’ reply had an immediate setback when Gayle diverted Anderson’s third delivery straight to second slip.

Simmons and Sarwan helped revive the innings in a second wicket stand of 39 before Flintoff removed both in a probing first spell.

Sarwan, who hit three fours in 23 off 28 balls, tried to lift a cut over the off side but top-edged to wicket-keeper Prior.

Simmons swatted an ugly stroke to mid-on after compiling 17 off 19 balls.

When experienced Shivnarine Chanderpaul fell to Collingwood, the home team was limping at 69 for four.

Bravo and Pollard gave the sell-out crowd some hope in a fifth wicket partnership of 55 off 59 balls.

But both departed in successive balls to virtually end the contest.

Bravo sliced a catch to point off Broad while Pollard lofted Anderson to long-on.

Flintoff then supplied a fitting finale with a hat-trick, the third by an English bowler.

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Written by jamarch