ninth over: West Indies 53-3 (Bravo 7, Pooran 9) Rashid continues throwing his spells. There’s an exquisite googly here that dumbfounds Pooran, who does well to hold his back foot grounded as the safeguards fall off, and another later on that Pooran doesn’t foresee at all.8.38pm GMT8th over: West Indies 51-3 (Bravo 6, Pooran 8) Plunkett now, and it’s a measure both of England’s handling and West Indies’ feeling of gentle frenzy that multiple times the batsmen need to change their call since circumstances they thought existed turned out not to. Five off the over, including a wide.
9th over: West Indies 53-3 (Bravo 7, Pooran 9) Rashid keeps casting his spells. There’s a lovely googly here that befuddles Pooran, who does well to keep his back foot grounded as the bails come off, and another later on that Pooran doesn’t anticipate at all.
8th over: West Indies 51-3 (Bravo 6, Pooran 8) Plunkett now, and it’s a measure both of England’s fielding and West Indies’ sense of mild panic that three times the batsmen have to change their call because opportunities they thought existed turned out not to. Five off the over, including a wide.
7th over: West Indies 46-3 (Bravo 4, Pooran 6) Rashid brings some spin, and gets good movement from the get-go. The batsmen aren’t sure what to do about it, and settle for not a lot.
6th over: West Indies 43-3 (Bravo 2, Pooran 5) Pooran, who was expected to open the innings, finally pitches up, and he pulls the final ball of the over for a mighty four. It is a minor blot on another fine over from the lovely Chris Jordan. “It’s not perfect, but we have an opportunity for ‘The batsman’s Holder, the bowler’s Willey.’” writes Matt Dony. “If it’s said fast enough, and with enough commitment, it works. I hope the commentary team do what they have to to do.”
5th over: West Indies 37-3 (Bravo 1) Curran returns after a change of ends, and Hetmyer top-edges a pull for four. He then goes down on one knee to hoist the ball over midwicket, but misjudges the speed of the delivery and gets nothing but air. And then he gets out, again the wicket coming from the last ball of the over – that’s six runs and two wickets from the last two overs.
WICKET! Hetmyer c Plunkett b T Curran 14 (West Indies 37-3)
Hetmyer is surprised by a slowish, high full toss and lifts the ball to mid on, where Plunkett has plenty of time to set himself for the catch!
4th over: West Indies 31-2 (Hetmyer 7) Chris Jordan comes into the fray. I phoned Chris Jordan one day a while ago, only to discover that he was in New Zealand and I’d woken him up at 3am. He was nevertheless extremely polite, and agreed to talk to me if I called him back at a less absolutely ridiculous hour. I like Chris Jordan. He is a nice man. This is also an excellent over, which had cost just three singles before Gayle got out to the last ball.
WICKET! Gayle c Rashid b Jordan 15 (West Indies 31-2)
Gayle nicks the final ball of an excellent over straight into the hands of Rashid at backward point!
3rd over: West Indies 28-1 (Gayle 28, Hetmyer 7) Willey’s first few balls to Gayle are pretty decent (albeit the first is a wide), but the next is rank: short and wide and the batsman gently and leisurely lifts it over third man for six. The last delivery is a not-quite-yorker, and Gayle finds a way to thump it over midwicket for another six!
2nd over: West Indies 13-1 (Gayle 1, Hetmyer 6) A good over for England, not just because of the wicket – it starts with a couple of singles, which means that Gayle’s knackered now. Hetmyer comes in and takes a couple of balls to set himself, before swatting the last delivery of the over down the ground for six!
WICKET! Hope c Root b T Curran 6 (West Indies 7-1)
Hope tries to tuck the ball off his pads but gets a massive leading edge, sending the ball steepling high into the air, Root is underneath it when it comes to earth and he makes no mistake!
1st over: West Indies 5-0 (Hope 5, Gayle 0) Willey bowls the first over, with Shai Hope unexpectedly opening, and he starts with a first-ball four, tucked past short fine leg. And that should have been the end of his road as he skies his third delivery to third man where Rashid sets himself, waits, waits a bit longer, puts out his hands, waits a bit more, and then lets the ball fall straight through them! That was an all-you-can-eat buffet of a catch, disastrously dunked!
The state of that sky. Just obscenely blue. Anyway, the players are out, and are about to play.
A bit of pre-match reading here, by way of an interview with Samuel William Billings:
A bit of local context here:
Here are the teams:
West Indies: Gayle, Pooran, Hope (wk), Bravo, Hetmyer, Brathwaite, Holder (c), Nurse, Allen, Cottrell, Thomas.
England: Hales, Bairstow (wk), Root, Morgan (c), Denly, Billings, Willey, T Curran, Plunkett, Jordan, Rashid.
Jason Holder looks relaxed about the prospect of batting first.
I think it’s a good strip. The form the batsmen are carrying, we expect a really good challenge from them. The guys are really up for this challenge.
Campbell and Bishoo are out; Fabian Allen comes in.
England win the toss and will bowl
Wood rests, Dawid Malan and Sam Curran are out. So Bairstow and Hales will open the batting.
Given the entertainment provided by the Test series and the utter mayhem witnessed in (most of) the ODIs, we can fairly safely assume that this is going to be a wildly entertaining freewheeling humdinger, or something of the sort. The game will be played at the same ground, and probably on the same track, where England were skittled for 113 in the final ODI a few days ago, which is also encouraging, particularly if you’re a West Indian bowler. So settle down, strap yourself in and get ready for the ride of your life, or at the very least of your Tuesday afternoon/evening/whatever.
England will be without the rested Jos Buttler, Ben Stokes and Moeen Ali, the baby-birth-attending Jason Roy and the injured Liam Plunkett, with Mark Wood also a potential absentee. West Indies are expected to stick with a team very much like the one that performed so admirably in the ODI series.
Let’s start with a preview from Ian Prince in St Lucia: