Chris Gayle’s ODI return was predictably eye-catching, with the Jamaican dropped on nought, muscling three sixes and then caught for 37 from 27 deliveries.
Watch highlights of Gayle’s knock and a seven-wicket England win in the video at the top of the page in a match reduced to 42 overs a side due to a wet outfield at Old Trafford.
Gayle, playing his first ODI since the 2015 World Cup after an ease in relations with his cricket board, should have departed third ball, only for Joe Root to shell his loose drive at second slip.
Root made up for that error, however, by taking a blinding running catch in the deep to oust Gayle in the ninth over – albeit only after the opener had creamed Chris Woakes for one six and David Willey for two.
The Ben Stokes-Marlon Samuels battle is rarely a damp squib and the England man won it on this occasion, having the Windies star caught behind off the glove on review for 16.
Stokes (3-43), lost his radar in the final over, though, shipping 15 runs, as Windies captain Jason Holder (41no) propelled Windies to 204-9 in the first game of the five-match series.
Alex Hales (19) looked in good touch as England made a bright start to their chase but the in-form opener was unable to push on, slapping the ball to Evin Lewis at backward point off Jerome Taylor.
Root then joined Jonny Bairstow in the middle and the Yorkshire pair ran the Windies ragged, making the most of the large boundaries to pick up ones and twos all around the ground.
Both passed 50 before Root (54) chopped on to Kesrick Williams, bringing to an end a partnership of 125 for the second wicket.
By that stage though an England win was all but assured and although Williams had Eoin Morgan (10) caught behind, with the help of Stokes (23no), Bairstow (100no) saw England over the line – reaching his maiden ODI century in the process – with 67 balls to spare.
The result means Windies are now unable to qualify automatically for the 2019 World Cup in England, they needed to win the series 4-0 or 5-0 to overhaul eighth-placed Sri Lanka in the rankings.
England vs W Indies
September 21, 2017, 12:00pm
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