An unbroken eighth-wicket partnership of 58 between Ravi Bopara and captain Stuart Broad averted another embarrassing collapse for England and led them to a series-leveling three-wicket win over the West Indies on Sunday.
On a day when both teams performed below-average at the bat, the home side lost their last six wickets for 26 runs after West Indies skipper Dwayne Bravo’s controversial dismissal for 159 off 44.2 overs.
England — their confidence low after six defeats in their last seven one-day internationals — seemed to have frittered away an excellent position after being reduced to 105 for seven in the 32nd over at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in Antigua and Barbuda.
However, Broad joined Bopara in defying the primary threat of spinner Sunil Narine and survived a few alarms before striking the winning boundary with five overs to spare.
The West Indies thought they had removed Broad immediately upon his arrival at the crease to a catch at the wicket off Ravi Rampaul, but umpire Rod Tucker’s on-field decision was reversed on TV review.
He was then put down on three by Bravo diving to his left at slip off the same bowler.
It proved to be the critical miss as Broad finished unbeaten on 28 and Bopara on 38 not out, setting the stage for the deciding third and final match at the same North Sound venue tomorrow, where West Indies won Friday’s opener by 15 runs.
“We made it really hard for ourselves, but Rav [Bopara] did what we expected of him at No. 7 and we were able to keep our minds clear on the target required,” Broad said.
On another dry pitch, spinners again proved to be England’s most effective weapon, with left-arm orthodox bowler Stephen Parry taking three for 32 on debut and earning the man-of-the-match award.
“This is the greatest day of my life,” Parry said. “To make my debut, get man of the match and — most importantly — get the win, it’s a dream come true.”
The other three slow bowlers used by the tourists — James Tredwell, Joe Root and Moeen Ali — shared five wickets, as only Lendl Simmons (70) prospered in a West Indies top order that once again lacked the technique and application to succeed in the conditions.
Simmons and Bravo were threatening a repeat of their century partnership in the first one-day international two days earlier, having put on 52 for the fifth wicket.
Yet the West Indies captain was ruled stumped off Tredwell by TV umpire Marais Erasmus, despite lengthy deliberation and numerous camera angles appearing to suggest that there was enough doubt as to whether wicketkeeper Jos Buttler had effected the dismissal before the ball fell from his grasp.
“They’re going to get some harsh words in the dressing room,” Bravo said after the lower order fell away following his demise, leaving more than five overs unused. “It could have meant another 30 runs for us.”