Thu, Jul 08, 2004 - Page 19 News List

West Indies beat hosts to advance in NatWest Series

AP , LONDON

England was dumped out the NatWest Series by the West Indies Tuesday as Chris Gayle and Ramnaresh Sarwan overcame centuries from Andrew Flintoff and Andrew Strauss to lead their team to an exciting, seven-wicket win at Lord's.

The West Indies' triumph earned them a place in Saturday's final alongside New Zealand at the expense of the hosts.

Opener Gayle's magnificent unbeaten 132 off 165 balls anchored the run chase as the West Indies reached their formidable victory target at 286 for three with five balls to spare.

Sarwan scorched 89 off 78 deliveries to rev up the chase in a run-a-ball stand of 187 with man-of-the-match Gayle.

Earlier, Flintoff's bruising 123 off 104 balls and Strauss' even 100 thrilled a capacity crowd of 25,000.

The pair rebuilt the England innings from the peril of 54 for three in the 19th over to lead them to 285 for seven of 50 overs.

The hosts reduced the West Indies to 15 for one in the seventh over to further lift home hopes.

Darren Gough made the breakthrough as Devon Smith edged to wicket-keeper Geraint Jones.

But 24-year-old Gayle and Sarwan utilized a true batting pitch and a lightning-fast outfield with some sparkling strokes.

England was guilty of letting off both batsmen early in their innings but the chances were difficult ones.

Gayle was on 19 when Strauss missed a diving left-handed chance at extra cover off Gough. Sarwan was on 16 when his firm drive was missed in the follow through by fast bowler James Anderson.

After that, there were a half dozen scares for the pair through missed run out chances as they tried to accelerate the innings.

Sarwan eventually fell at 202 for two in the 38th over when in sight of a century. The 24-year-old right-hander nicked an Anderson slower ball to the wicket-keeper after lashing nine boundaries.

When Anderson accounted for the key scalp of captain Brian Lara two overs later, England sensed a way back. Lara, too, edged a drive to gloveman Jones after scoring 10 off 12 balls.

But Ricardo Powell (33 not out) provided Gayle with enterprising support and added an unbroken 68 off just 48 balls to see the Caribbean men home.

Gayle's ninth one-day century, in his 100th match, was spiced with 12 fours and a six.

Earlier, Flintoff and Strauss shared a frantic, record-breaking partnership to lift England from early trouble. It was Flintoff's second century in three days following his 106 in another losing cause against New Zealand at Bristol on Tuesday.

Strauss hit eight fours and two sixes on his way to his maiden one-day century.

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