Salt smashes ton as England set up decider with West Indies
TAROUBA, Trinidad and Tobago, (AFP) — Phil Salt smashed a superb 119 from just 57 balls as England beat West Indies by 75 runs to level their Twenty20 international series 2-2 and set up a decider on Thursday.
Led by Salt’s aggressive stroke play and swift half-centuries from skipper Jos Buttler and Liam Livingstone, England made a team record of 267 for three in their 20 overs at the Brian Lara Academy.
England’s tally was second-highest innings score in a match between full member nations and although West Indies made a fast-scoring start they rapidly lost wickets and ended up bowled out for 192 in 15.3 overs.
Having trailed 2-0 in this series and having lost the ODI series in the Caribbean, England were facing a demoralising end to their tour but now have the chance to secure the series back at the same venue.
Salt had hit an unbeaten ton in England’s victory in Grenada on Saturday and carried on where he left off, taking the attack to the hosts from the outset in emphatic fashion after England were put in.
Salt and skipper Jos Buttler put on 117 in the opening partnership before the captain was removed for 55 when he was caught in the deep by West Indies captain Rovman Powell off Jason Holder.
Will Jacks helped maintain the momentum with 24 from nine balls as part of a rapid 56-run partnership and Liam Livingstone ensured the run-rate never faded with 54 from 21 balls.
Salt was finally bowled by Andre Russell in the penultimate over after striking ten sixes and seven fours in his entertaining innings — the highest score by an Englishman in T20 internationals.
The West Indies reply started badly with Brandon King removed with the first ball of the innings, edging to Reece Topley at short third man off Moeen Ali.
But Nicholas Pooran came in and hammered 20 off the rest of Ali’s opening over as the home side showed they were ready for the daunting chase.
The runs were flowing but Kyle Mayers was caught by Chris Woakes, at the second attempt, after looping a mis-timed drive off Topley high to mid-on.
Shai Hope went for 16 after he top-edged Woakes to the grateful Salt behind the stumps leaving West Indies at 78-4 in just the sixth over.
Andre Russell offered a reminder of his power with five sixes in his 51 off 25 balls but England wrapped up the win when Russell was caught by Harry Brook off Topley.
– Tweaks satisfy Salt –
Salt’s incredible form bodes well for England’s hopes in June’s T20 World Cup, which will be hosted in the Caribbean and the United States, and he said he was relishing playing in the region.
“I’m definitely enjoying it. It’s a cool place to tour,” he said. “The boys have produced the goods in the last couple of games and now we’ve got a decider to look forward to.”
Salt credited his surge in form to a changed approach to the game.
“It’s very satisfying. The tweaks that I’ve made to my game in the last six months from a mental approach point of view… it’s good that I’m seeing the rewards now,” he added.
Skipper Buttler was beaming after what was a feat of big-hitting with 33 sixes in the day.
“A fantastic win,” he said. “You don’t play in too many of those games. It was like being at the Hong Kong Sixes. Really proud of the group, to play with the bravery, the courage and the skill level that we have.”
For his counterpart Powell, there was little to do other than get his team ready for one more clash.
“Credit where credit is due,” he said. “Phil Salt and Jos batted really well up front. These things happen. It’s a very thin line. We’re playing against world-class players. Once you don’t execute properly, they’re going to put you under pressure.
“The boys like a final it seems. We’ll come into Thursday with brand new ideas and plans… The guys will just relax. Sometimes you just need to give them some space. It’s a thinking game, and once guys are clear in their mind, they generally can execute.”