Sam Curran falls short in attempt at atonement as England lose to West Indies

By Sports Desk December 14, 2023

Sam Curran fell short in his attempt at atonement with the bat as England were left with a mountain to climb after the West Indies moved 2-0 ahead in their T20 series.

Thumped for 30 in his second and last over by a rampant Rovman Powell, whose 50 off 28 balls propelled the Windies to 176 for seven, Curran was elevated several places to four in England’s batting order.

He made 50 himself – with four fours and three sixes – before succumbing to a catch on the boundary from his 32nd ball and England settled for 166 for seven to lose by 10 runs on a hot day in Grenada.

Adil Rashid did not concede a single boundary as he collected figures of 4-0-11-2, while Tymal Mills was impressive at the death but England’s pace options lacked a cutting edge and Rehan Ahmed was expensive as the Windies racked up 13 sixes, five of them from opener Brandon King, who made an unbeaten 82.

England had their moments with the bat, most notably as Curran defied a previous T20 average of 11 from 26 innings, but some of their more-established stars were loose at inopportune moments.

Alzarri Joseph took three for 39 and slow left-armer Gudakesh Motie conceded nine from his allotment on a sluggish pitch to leave England needing to prevail in all three remaining T20s to win the series.

It has been a forgettable few days for Jos Buttler after their World Cup group-stage exit and ODI series loss to these opponents, although the England captain returned to a venue where he make a sensational 150 on his last visit four years ago.

However, he made five this time before charging at left-arm spinner Akeal Hosein and fluffing to short cover.

Jason Holder was taken the distance by Phil Salt, while Will Jacks clubbed three fours in an over off Andre Russell as England came out of the powerplay with 51 before Motie pegged them back.

He conceded just four from his first two overs and Joseph capitalised as England’s ODI openers looked to attack him. Salt departed for 25 and Jacks for 24, the pair tempted to swing into the wind after Joseph dangled the carrot of banging the ball halfway down the pitch.

Liam Livingstone put some pressure back on the Windies by pulling and driving Russell for fours before crashing a six for a third-successive boundary, while Curran got in the act, clearing deep midwicket.

But Livingstone could not resist going after Motie – in his final over – and was caught on the boundary, while Harry Brook also perished to spin off Hosein as England were left needing 67 from 30 balls.

Curran cleared the straight boundary off both Joseph and Russell, who followed up his star showing in the Windies’ win in Barbados by leaking 66 off four overs here.

But after bringing up a maiden T20 fifty, Curran skewed Joseph to deep point, effectively ending England’s hopes.

While the returning Moeen Ali – in for Ben Duckett in England’s only line-up change – made 22 not out, the tourists were left with too much to do after requiring 27 in six balls.

A quiet start to the Windies’ innings after England fielded upon winning the toss was punctuated when King belted the returning Moeen for two sixes in an over but a 43-run opening stand ended as Kyle Mayers miscued Chris Woakes’ slower ball up to a backtracking Curran.

It was the start of the Windies losing four wickets in 17 balls as Woakes held on to a skier when Nicholas Pooran looked to take down Rashid, who had Shimron Hetmyer well caught by Moeen at slip.

Either side of Rashid’s double breakthrough, Ahmed castled Shai Hope with a sharp-turning googly.

No risks were taken against Rashid which left the Windies on 101 for four when he was bowled out with five overs left and Powell, on a run-a-ball 22, took matters into his own hands when Curran came back.

An inside edge for four was a streaky beginning but there was nothing fortunate in the way Powell then picked off Curran’s slower, length deliveries, including one baseball-style swing over long-off.

Jacqueline Williams, who became the first female umpire from the Caribbean to stand in a men’s T20 international, raised her arms skywards four times in total but Curran got a measure of revenge as Powell holed out from the final delivery of the over after bringing up a 27-ball fifty.

King tucked into Ahmed’s final offering but Mills dragged it back, conceding a combined 15 in the 18th and 20th overs and snaring Russell and Holder with the last two balls.

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