Cook hundred gives England series

Alastair Cook struck his third ODI hundred in six matches, adding 122 for the first wicket with Ian Bell, after another collective bowling effort kept the lid on West Indies after a brief onslaught by Gayle.

On a day overshadowed by the death of Surrey batsman Tom Maynard on Monday it was a largely subdued affair. The match was preceded by a minute’s silence and the players wore black armbands while a book of condolence was opened in the pavilion. England had wanted to secure victory in memory of Maynard – a player tipped to graduate to the top level – and once they had ended Gayle’s innings the home side never lost control despite a hundred stand between Dwayne Bravo and Kieron Pollard.

Cook’s hundred – his fourth as captain – was a superbly controlled innings and came off 114 balls to continue the prolific run of England openers in the one-day game. This innings takes it to six on the trot which is new record for any team in ODIs. Cook’s full range of shots were on display and not just the cut, drive and pull that prove so prolific in Tests. He brought out the slog-sweep against Sunil Narine, upper-cut Darren Sammy down to third man and, with the target closing in, pulled a six over long-on off the front foot before top edging a slower ball next delivery.

The West Indies bowling attack offered barely any concerns for them. The recalled Tino Best was quick but erratic as he conceded 31 in his opening four overs while Narine still could not trouble England as he has other opposition.

Bell drove elegantly off the back foot through the off side while Cook picked off his favourite cut shot while also driving through cover and past mid-off – a sign that his game is in good work working order. Narine was introduced straight after the first set of fielding restrictions but England were already well ahead of the rate and only needed to milk him. Not that they spurned boundary opportunities, though, with Cook collecting consecutive fours.

West Indies had threatened a more daunting target when Gayle peppered the stands during a 41-ball fifty with five sixes in 11 deliveries including three in a row in Tim Bresnan’s first over after the innings had made a sedate start. An emerging trait of this England one-day team, though, is that they do not panic under pressure and Cook was rewarded for some smart captaincy when he introduced Graeme Swann ahead of Stuart Broad.Bell’s fifty came off 60 deliveries as he continued his resurgent return to the one-day team following the hundred he made in the opening match of the series. However, he could not close in on back-to-back hundreds (to follow the feats of Cook and Kevin Pietersen against Pakistan) as he pushed firmly at a Sammy delivery which he indicated stopped in the surface.

Swann’s first over cost three, then, with the third ball of his second, he won an lbw decision from Tony Hill who ruled the ball had struck pad fractionally before the inside edge. Gayle reviewed the decision immediately and third umpire, Kumar Dharmasena, had a long look before ruling that there was not sufficient evidence to overturn the decision, much to Gayle’s frustration as he lingered at the crease.

Despite Gayle’s innings the scoring rate had not escaped from England, largely because they had kept Lendl Simmons very quiet at the other end. It was a painful innings from Simmons who struggled for timing as he laboured for 50 deliveries before chancing a single to mid-off where he was beaten by a direct hit from Cook.

Either side of that West Indies had lost two of their in-form batsmen. Dwayne Smith, who opened in the first match in Gayle’s absence and this time was at No. 3 in place of the injured Darren Bravo, flashed at a wide delivery in Broad’s first over. It was crucial Marlon Samuels steadied the innings but four balls after Simmons’ run out he lazily picked out deep midwicket with a top-edged pull.

The visitors were threatening to completely lose their way but Bravo, with a display of class strokeplay, and Pollard, with a little more brute strength, played sensibly to at least ensure the total passed 200, as West Indies faded again at the end. A rare mistake from England came when Pollard was given a life on 28 with Craig Kieswetter missing a stumping chance the ball before the batting Powerplay was taken, and the fielding restrictions brought 47 runs – only for the final five overs of the innings to bring just 19. The momentum was England’s and it never left them.

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