England opener rubs Salt into West Indies' wounds

Staff WritersReuters
England opener Phil Salt (right) took the attack up to the West Indies bowlers at the World Cup.  (AP PHOTO)
Camera IconEngland opener Phil Salt (right) took the attack up to the West Indies bowlers at the World Cup. (AP PHOTO) Credit: AAP

Defending champions England have brushed aside their struggles in the opening phase of the Twenty20 World Cup with an eight-wicket victory over the previously unbeaten West Indies in the Super Eight.

England's bowlers restricted West Indies to 4-180 in St Lucia on the same pitch where the co-hosts had scored 218 against Afghanistan on Monday, before opener Phil Salt led the way with 87 from 47 balls as the batters got the job done inside 18 overs.

"To come to here and play like that against a very strong side, who are riding a wave in their own conditions, with a home crowd, is a great feeling," Salt said.

"It's been very stop-start for us. We had a hiccup against Australia and a rain-out against Scotland, a really topsy-turvy start.

"It didn't feel like we'd played that much cricket to this point, but in tournament cricket you need confidence and momentum at the right time.

"To get a win against the hosts give us a first push in that direction."

Having squeaked into the second stage on net run-rate, England will take a huge boost from beating one of the in-form teams at the tournament to top Group 2 with South Africa, who they meet at the same ground on Friday.

The meeting of the only two teams to have won the T20 World Cup twice was expected to be a run-fest - with much of the credit for the win going to the England bowlers for preventing the big-hitting locals from cutting loose.

Having won the toss and elected to field, England served up 51 dot balls and took regular wickets in the second half of the innings to prevent any of the West Indies batters from reaching a half-century.

A groin injury ended opener Brandon King's night on 23, but West Indies would still have been confident of a big score when they reached the halfway point of their innings on 82 without loss.

However, just when they would have been looking to accelerate, fellow opener Johnson Charles holed out in the deep for 38 off the bowling of Moeen Ali.

Danger man Nicholas Pooran and skipper Rovman Powell both scored 36 before being dismissed in successive overs.

Andre Russell followed for one shortly afterwards to leave West Indies 4-143 in the 17th over.

Sherfane Rutherford (28 not out) and Romario Shepherd put on another 37 runs, but England will have been confident it was a reachable target, particularly after Salt and Jos Buttler put on 67 for the first wicket.

Buttler was trapped in front by Roston Chase's off-spin for 25, but Salt kept the runs ticking over before he was joined by Jonny Bairstow.

Salt let Bairstow (48 not out) take the strike initially, before clubbing 30 off Shepherd in the 16th over with three sixes and three fours to all but finish the chase.

- with PA

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