ST JOHN’S, Antigua – Jason Mohammed hit a maiden One-Day International half-century and Jonathan Carter gathered his third but West Indies failed to come to grips with a challenging run chase, and slumped to a 45-run defeat to England in the opening game of a three-match series at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium Friday.
Asked to overhaul 297 after England captain Eoin Morgan had struck his 10th ODI hundred, West Indies lost wickets in clusters and were bowled out for 251 in the 48th over, to suffer their sixth one-day defeat in their last eight outings.
Mohammed, in only his third ODI and his first international appearance in two years, top-scored with 72 while Carter weighed in with a robust 52 and Shai Hope, 31.
The right-handed Mohammed anchored two successive half-century stands which pulled West Indies around from danger at 39 for three in the 12th over and lifted them into a strong position at 190 for four in the 39th over.
But Carter’s dismissal signalled a decline for the hosts and they lost their last six wickets for 61 runs in the space of 54 balls, to fall behind in the series.
Seamers Liam Plunkett (4-40) and Chris Woakes (4-47) did nearly all the damage, grabbing four wickets apiece, to underline a potent England performance ahead of Sunday’s second game at the same venue.
Sent in, the tourists slumped to 29 for two in the eighth over after speedster Shannon Gabriel struck twice early on but the left-handed Morgan came to his side’s rescue with a superb 107 off 116 deliveries.
All-rounder Ben Stokes hit 55 and opener Sam Billings gathered 52, while Moeen Ali came at the end to produce a cameo unbeaten 31 from 22 balls.
Following a half-hour delayed start because of wet run-ups and then rain, England found themselves stunned after Gabriel prised out Jason Roy (13) and Joe Root (4) cheaply.
Roy, dropped by captain Jason Holder off a caught and bowled chance in the fifth over, perished in the following over – lbw on the back foot to one which kept low.
Gabriel then got the prize wicket of Root, spectacularly bowling the right-hander with a quick delivery which jagged back and found the batsman rooted to the crease.
However, Morgan arrived to steady the innings, anchoring three partnerships which ensured England reached the fourth highest total at the ground.
He put on 67 for the third wicket with Billings, 110 for the fifth wicket with Stokes before adding a further 53 with Moeen Ali for the sixth wicket.
Morgan, dropped on four in the 11th over by Kieran Powell at first slip off the first ball of seamer Carlos Brathwaite’s opening spell, made the most of the opportunity to raise his 32nd ODI half-century off 67 balls in the 31st over.
He then required only another 45 deliveries to reach three figures, clearing the ropes at mid-wicket with Brathwaite to bring up the landmark in the 48th over.
Morgan eventually perished off the third delivery of the final over, run out after backing up too far.
Off-spinner Ashley Nurse (2-57) and the right-arm Gabriel (2-58) picked up two wickets apiece.
In reply, West Indies were given a solid if not spectacular start of 36 by left-hander Evin Lewis who made 21 and Kraigg Brathwaite who scored 14.
Lewis was looking ominous when against the run of play, he pulled an innocuous delivery from Woakes into the lap of deep mid-wicket in the 10th over.
Powell, making a return to international cricket following a three-year break, failed to impress as he perished in the 11th over for one, caught at point off a leading edge by Jason Roy off Plunkett.
And in the following over, Brathwaite found himself in a tangle against an ordinary short ball from Woakes and swatted a simple catch to Adil Rashid at mid-on.
Mohammed then instigated a recovery, first in a 69-run, fourth wicket stand with Hope and then in an entertaining 82-run, fifth wicket partnership with Carter.
All told, he faced 91 balls and struck seven fours.
Hope appeared untroubled before gifting his wicket by cutting a long hop from leg-spinner Rashid to Steven Finn at point but Carter entered to up the tempo, hitting four fours and two sixes in a 47-ball innings.
The left-hander started slowly with just five runs from his first 19 deliveries but quickly went into overdrive and raced to his half-century off 44 balls.
He was looking to push on when he held out to mid-wicket off Plunkett in the 39th and the wicket of a tiring Mohammed via the run-out route in the 42nd over helped seal the Windies demise.