The West Indies defeated England by 15 runs in the first one-day international on Friday after the visitors squandered an excellent platform that had put them in position to take the lead in the three-match series.
Replying to the home side’s competitive total of 269-6, England were restricted to 254-6 after being 180-2 in the 37th over.
Michael Lumb’s fluent 106 on one-day debut, only the second England player after Dennis Amiss to achieve the feat, and an opening partnership of 96 with fellow first-timer Moeen Ali (44), seemed to ensure that most of the hard work was done in pursuit of a morale-boosting victory following the harrowing tour of Australia.
However, where in the West Indies innings the home side plundered 116 runs off the final 10 overs, England lost their way in the home stretch, losing four wickets for 31 runs.
“If you look at both innings, we were brilliant for 40 overs and then struggled,” England captain Stuart Broad said. “I wouldn’t look too much at the batting. It was the last 10 overs with the ball that really hurt us.”
Much of that English discomfort in the field in the final stages of the West Indies innings was caused by Darren Sammy. Coming to the crease after the fall of Lendl Simmons (65) and a 108-run partnership with skipper Dwayne Bravo, the hosts were still laboring to get any momentum at 153-5 in the 40th over. However, the former captain changed all that, bludgeoning his way to 61 off just 36 deliveries with five fours and four sixes as he and the man who replaced him at the helm cashed in on Broad’s decision to return to the fast-medium bowlers.
Bravo’s unbeaten 87 off 91 deliveries was also entertaining, the pair carting the England bowling to all parts of the huge Sir Vivian Richards ground in taking 116 runs off the hapless bowlers before Sammy fell to Tim Bresnan off the final ball.
Despite taking three wickets, Bresman and fellow fast-medium bowler, Barbadian-born Chris Jordan, conceded 135 runs off a combined 19 overs. That was in stark contrast to the economy and effectiveness of the slow bowling trio of James Tredwell, Ali and Joe Root. They exploited the helpful conditions in the early going — Root opened the bowling with Broad — so successfully that the West Indies were almost in ruins at 45-4.
Lumb, a member of England’s World Twenty20-winning squad in the Caribbean in 2010, also took a liking to the faster stuff offered by the West Indies at the start of the run-chase. In his first senior international match, Ali was also at ease and the pair of left-handers were on the verge of a century opening stand when Dwayne Smith removed Ali to a catch at long-on.
Luke Wright fell cheaply, but Root kept England ahead of the game, seeing Lumb to the three-figure landmark off 117 deliveries with seven fours and two sixes before the 34-year-old South African-born batsman gave Bravo a comfortable catch at cover off Ravi Rampaul. That proved to be the turning point with the West Indies able to build pressure and take more wickets as the captain turned to his spinning trump-card.
“We back our bowling group to defend 250-plus anytime,” Bravo said. “Sunil Narine had five overs to bowl and those were key, and we had Ravi Rampaul still to come as our best finishing bowler.”
Narine’s mesmerizing variations were too much for England to handle in the pressure situation and they were reduced to 211-6 in the 43rd over and there were to be no heroics from Ravi Bopara in his 100th one-day match or Bresnan to give England anything like a glimmer of hope at the end.