England made the perfect start to their T20 World Cup campaign after bowling West Indies out for 55 to claim a six-wicket win with 70 balls to spare.
They did lose four wickets in rather ungainly fashion, though the clinical performance with the ball meant there was never really any jeopardy when West Indies picked away at their top order. Leg spinner Adil Rashid typified England’s dominance, finishing with the absurd figures of four for two, the best he has returned across all 203 of his Twenty20 matches.
This was less a repeat of the 2016 World T20 final, more a rehash. Five years is a long time in cricket, and even longer in T20 given how the format has evolved. And time looked to have aged West Indies more than England. This 55 is their lowest total at a World Cup and second-lowest in all T20s. There were questionable shots, no doubt, with only Chris Gayle (13) registering double figures. But England were relentless, both with their fielding and execution. Every tactic worked, every match-up falling in their favour. If they wanted to send a message to their rivals, it was loud and clear.
Eoin Morgan opted for a batting-heavy XI, and chose to chase after winning the toss, wary of the dew that would have come had this match lasted longer than a couple of hours. Indeed the biggest worry for England came before a ball was bowled as Morgan confirmed Mark Wood was missing through discomfort in his left ankle after the final warm-up match against New Zealand. An injection has been administered and the management hope he will be available for the selection against Bangladesh on Wednesday.
The extra pace was to be provided by Tymal Mills, playing in his first T20 for England in four years. Nevertheless, on a slow-ish pitch at the Dubai International Stadium, the sharper stuff was always going to be the support act to spin.
While Rashid took the spoils, Moeen Ali set the tone, opening the West Indies innings and delivering his four overs straight. His two for 17 – career-best in the international format – accounted for Lendl Simmons and Shimron Hetmyer, and also took s smart catch running back from mid off to account for Evin Lewis, for Chris Woakes’ one dismissal.
When Mills got Gayle spooning to Dawid Malan at midwicket – another well-judged grab while back-pedalling – West Indies were 31 for four in the Power Play. Not terminal, by any stretch. Indeed the biggest capitulation was still to come.
Another team might have knocked the ball around, managing what remained to at least make it to 20 overs for a reasonable score, if not to keep their dignity intact. But that’s not the West Indies way, and there was mitigation for trying to play to type with Nicolas Pooran, Kieron Pollard and Andre Russell still in the mix. But when that trio were hounded out for just seven runs between them, embarrassment was confirmed.
West Indies: 55/10 in 14.2 overs (Chris Gayle 13; Adil Rashid 4/2, Moin Ali 2/17, Time Mills 2/17).
England: 56/4 in 8.2 overs (Jos Butler 24, Jason Roy 11; Akil Hossain 2/24).
Result: England won by 6 wickets.