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Captain Morgan leads from front as England beat Windies

Eoin Morgan started slowly in Antigua but accelerated superbly to compile a decisive century that earned victory for England.

News 04 Mar 2017, 03:18 IST
Eoin Morgan - cropped
England captain Eoin Morgan on his way to a hundred in Antigua

A superbly paced century from Eoin Morgan ultimately proved key on Friday as England beat West Indies by 45 runs in their first one-day international in Antigua.

On a somewhat sluggish surface that made quick scoring tricky, the tourists recovered from a shaky start to post a healthy total of 296-6 - thanks largely to their captain's composed innings of 107 from 116 balls.

Morgan used up 32 deliveries for his first nine runs, but his slow start was more than justified by the controlled acceleration that followed, as he shared fifty stands with Sam Billings (52) and Moeen Ali (31 not out) either side of putting on 110 for the fifth wicket alongside Ben Stokes (55), who did not bowl due to an apparent niggle.

The run-chase followed a similar pattern, Jason Mohammed (72) and the aggressive Jonathan Carter (52) keeping West Indies in contention after three early wickets had put England in command.

However, Carter's exit triggered a collapse to 251 all out that saw Chris Woakes and Liam Plunkett finish with four wickets apiece, ensuring Morgan's 10th ODI hundred and fifth as England captain - a new record - came in a winning cause.

Morgan, who came in at 29-2 after the pacy Shannon Gabriel (2-58) had accounted for Jason Roy and Joe Root, took time in finding his feet as Billings produced a number of typically eye-catching strokes en route to his second ODI fifty.

Billings and Jos Buttler fell to Ashley Nurse (2-57), but by that stage Morgan had found his rhythm and further impetus was provided by three sixes from Stokes.

There were a couple of hairy moments for the centurion, who was hit on the helmet by Gabriel shortly before reaching 50 and then survived a stumping chance off Mohammed on 69, when he may also have got a fine edge.

However, Morgan was generally assured as he picked his moments to attack wisely and the final 10 overs of the innings yielded 100 runs, Moeen following Stokes' impressive innings with a useful late cameo.

A burst of three wickets in as many overs undermined West Indies' reply. Woakes had Evin Lewis caught on the deep square-leg boundary and Kraigg Brathwaite held at mid-on, while Kieran Powell - in his first ODI appearance for almost three years - offered up the simplest of catches to Roy at backward point off Plunkett

Yet Mohammed shared 69 with Shai Hope before playing a supporting role as Carter lifted the tempo impressively to keep his side in the hunt.

Just as the Windies were threatening to become favourites, a key blow was landed by England when Roy dived forward at deep square-leg to take a top-edged pull from Carter off Plunkett. Hope had earlier fallen to a similarly good catch in the deep from Finn.

After Jason Holder had fallen cheaply, more fine fielding saw Finn kick the ball into the stumps at the striker's end to run out Mohammed and there was to be no way back for the Windies as the required rate spiralled.

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