England fall short

The Bolton News: Chris Gayle, pictured, and Johnson Charles started well as they beat England by 15 runs Chris Gayle, pictured, and Johnson Charles started well as they beat England by 15 runs

ICC World Twenty20 champions England suffered a second successive setback as they began their Super Eight campaign with a 15-run defeat against West Indies at Pallekele.

Eoin Morgan (71no) and Alex Hales (68) did their best to rescue an unlikely victory, in pursuit of 179 for five. But in the end, with 23 required off Marlon Samuels' final over, England had left themselves with just too much to do.

England wrote off their heaviest loss, and lowest total, in this sprint format against India in Colombo on Sunday as a blip. This was a much better performance but generated more disappointment after they fell short of a tough but achievable target with 164 for four on a decent pitch.

Johnson Charles (84) and Chris Gayle (58) both clubbed half-centuries, after West Indies won the toss; then England's reply suffered a telling initial stumble, before opener Hales and back-to-form Morgan kept them in the contest with a century stand and seven sixes between them.

After a stand of 103, Gayle was first to go. But 23-year-old St Lucian Charles, without a century in any form of professional cricket, stayed the course to record his maiden Twenty20 international 50.

England, by contrast, began their reply by losing two wickets for no runs in the first three balls to Ravi Rampaul - and even though Hales responded with 50 containing five fours and two sixes, and Morgan reached his half-century in a tournament joint-record 25 balls, it was never going to be quite enough.

Charles had earlier hit 10 fours and three sixes, before mistiming another attempted big hit to long-on off Jade Dernbach. Gayle predictably first signalled his intent with three fours in one over from Dernbach.

But the openers apart, only Dwayne Bravo and Andre Russell managed double-figures - and their last-over assault on Dernbach helped to produce 15 runs, to make the Windies marginal favourites at the interval.

Jonny Bairstow, promoted ahead of Morgan, survived an early crisis as Craig Kieswetter went for a second-ball duck and Luke Wright followed soon after. Hales escaped a 'double-play' on 31 - when he should have been stumped off Samuel Badree, and then run out had a direct hit come in from short fine-leg as he stole a bye.

Bairstow's innings was a particular struggle, ending when he finally hit one well enough down the ground off Gayle but was very well-caught by Pollard running round from long-on. Hales and Morgan joined forces with little realistic hope of a successful chase but had enough firepower to make the Windies sweat right to the end.

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