For all of the pre-match hype, West Indies flattered to deceive in losing by eight wickets to England with as many as 16.5 overs remaining in their fourth match of the World Cup in Southampton today.
They remain in sixth position on three points in the ten-ten Tournament and it will now be a very tough task to win their remaining matches to press for a place in the semi-finals.
The West Indies batting at Hampshire Bowl – the same venue of a no result against South Africa on Monday due to rain – was a major disappointment. Some of the mistakes made in the 15-run defeat against Australia in the second match at Trent Bridge in Nottingham last Thursday were again evident today.
After losing the toss, West Indies were bowled out for 212 in 44.4 overs with only one half-century from the inexperienced Nicholas Pooran.
And then the bowling, featuring six seamers, was ordinary as Joe Root hit an even, unbeaten century off 94 balls with 11 fours in England’s 213 for two off 33.1 overs.
West Indies were let down by a few careless strokes, coupled with batsmen getting out at vital stages.
Pooran, in his fifth One-Day International, scored 63 off 78 balls including three fours and one six at No. 4.
Two other batsmen passed 30. Shimron Hetmyer made 39 off 48 balls with four boundaries and veteran opener Chris Gayle, 36 off 41 balls containing five fours and one six.
There were only two partnerships of note. Gayle and Shai Hope (11) added 50 in ten overs for the second wicket and Pooran and Hetmyer put on 89 in 16.3 overs for the fourth wicket.
Effectively, West Indies lost their last seven wickets for 68 runs in 14.5 overs.
That was downright disappointing.
Mark Wood took three for 18 off 6.4 overs, fellow pacer Jofra Archer, the Barbados-born player of whom so much has been written and spoken, picked up three for 30 off nine overs and slow bowler Root, two for 27 off five overs.
This was the first time in the Tournament that West Indies were batting first. Their approach in the early stages on a surface, which had a bit of moisture, was always likely to be tested.
Evin Lewis again failed, bowled for two by a yorker from Chris Woakes in the third over.
Observers pointed out that the size of the ground was another factor to be put in perspective. We were told that the ground is the biggest in the tournament with the smallest boundary being 76 metres.
Even so, the West Indies batsmen – or rather those who like to plunder sixes as though they are playing a Twenty20 game – should have been mindful of their approach.
It is no secret that Gayle is not keen on running a lot of singles and twos but his ability to hit boundaries with disdain can unsettle bowlers.
Having been dropped on 15 at third man by Wood off Woakes in the seventh over with the score on 19 for one, he soon played a few attacking strokes off the same bowler before be was caught in the deep by Jonny Bairstow off Liam Plunkett.
And with Hope falling leg before wicket off Wood in the following over after England reviewed a “not out” from umpire Kumar Dharmasena, the former Sri Lanka all-rounder, consolidation was crucial.
In the circumstances, Pooran and Hetmyer turned over the strike smartly in the next nine overs during which they scored only three boundaries, two of them by Pooran.
Both batsmen appeared to be very comfortable before Root struck in his second over, having Hetmyer caught and bowled from a drive.
There are two “Ts” which can be associated with Hetmyer – talent and temperament. The latter tends to get the better of him. This was his 29th ODI and his record of 966 runs including four hundreds and two half-centuries, at an average of 40.25 with a strike rate of 107.45 underlines his ability.
His dismissal turned out to be a vital turning point, as skipper Jason Holder (nine) also hit a return catch to Root in his next over immediately after clouting a six over long-off.
As was the case against Australia, the injury-prone Russell gave another example of impatience at the wrong time. Having been badly dropped on three at deep midwicket by Woakes off leg-spinner Adil Rashid as he essayed a slog in the 35th over, he managed two sixes off the fourth and last balls of the same over.
Russell raced to 21 off 16 balls before swinging at Wood to be caught at deep midwicket by Woakes.
Archer soon returned for a second spell and in his second over, he produced a sharp lifting ball, which Pooran gloved to wicket-keeper Jos Buttler.
Sheldon Cottrell was leg before wicket off the next ball as he played across.
Archer also accounted for Brathwaite, who edged a swing to Buttler after scoring 14, and Woood duly bowled Shannon Gabriel with an inswinging yorker for nought.
In playing six bowlers varying from genuine pace to medium-pace – Cottrell, Oshane Thomas, Gabriel, Russell, Holder and Brathwaite – West Indies would have been hoping to jolt the England batting like they did against Pakistan in a seven-wicket win in their opening match at Trent Bridge.
Their decision was probably influenced by the conditions but at the same time the selection panel must be mindful of teams stepping up their practice sessions against short-pitched bowling.
As the England captain Eoin Morgan remarked after the match “we spent two days in the indoor nets and (played) plenty of short stuff there. You need to have the method and you need to back yourself to do it”.
Holder said: “Our batsmen need to take a bit more ownership in the middle overs. One or two curious shots, and batters got out at crucial stages.”
And in relation to the short bowling, he noted: “We probably didn’t read the pace of the pitch. Having said that, defending 213 wasn’t easy.”
Overall, it was a listless showing by West Indies.
Now it looks a very rough road to travel for their remaining matches against Bangladesh (June 17), New Zealand (June 22), India (June 27), Sri Lanka (July 1) and Afghanistan (July 4) if they want to qualify for the semi-finals.
Keith Holder is a veteran, award-winning freelance sports journalist, who has been covering local, regional and International cricket since 1980 as a writer and commentator. He has compiled statistics on the Barbados Cricket Association (BCA) Division 1 (now Elite) Championship for over three-and-a-half decades and is responsible for editing the BCA website (www.bcacricket.org