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England still in hunt after do-or-die thriller

CHENNAI (Reuters) England pipped West Indies by 18 runs in a thrilling Group B match yesterday to stay in the hunt for a place in the quarter-finals of the World Cup.

Defending a 243-run total, James Tredwell (four for 48), Ravi Bopara (two for 22) and Graeme Swann (three for 36) came out with a lion-hearted effort to bowl out West Indies for 225 in 44.4 overs.

For the Caribbean team, Chris Gayle (43), Darren Sammy (41) and Andre Russell (49) shone with the bat but it was not enough as West Indies kept losing regular wickets, with their last four batsman falling for just four runs.

West Indies could have booked their place in the last eight with victory yesterday but instead their qualification hopes still hang in the balance while England were handed a lifeline.

“I'd given that one up for dead five minutes ago. I just thought, well, we've had that many close games it's just not been our World Cup,” a beaming Swann said after England pulled off their narrow escape.

“All of a sudden we're still here.

“We dug ourselves our own hole and slowly but surely we've tried to climb out of it and today we took a step towards that (a quarter-final place).”

West Indies captain Sammy said they had let England off the hook.

“At the end of the day we lost because we lacked the killer instinct,” he said. “All in all we should have chased down the total but . . . if you don't execute all three disciplines properly the chances are that you might lose.”

England and West Indies will both reach the knockout stages if South Africa beat Bangladesh in their final round-robin match tomorrow.

Should Bangladesh cause an upset, the fate of England, India and West Indies will go down to the wire on the final day of group matches on Sunday.

Yesterday, the English top order was guilty of squandering promising starts and not a single batsman scored a half-century against a West Indies attack, spearheaded by pace bowler Russell (four for 49) and debutant leg-spinner Devendra Bishoo (three for 34), which bowled them out in 48.4 overs.

Andrew Strauss (31) and Matt Prior (21) fell before their opening stand could really blossom and even though Jonathan Trott (47) and Luke Wright (44) made valuable contributions, none could hang around until the final overs.

England's decision to persist with Prior as opener nearly paid off but Russell removed both the openers in quick succession to peg them back.

Trott looked in sublime touch, hitting three boundaries off the first five balls he faced from Russell but Bishoo could not be denied a memorable debut in one-day internationals.

Bishoo removed Trott and went on to claim the vital scalp of Eoin Morgan, whose improvisation and ability to score briskly make him such a dangerous batsman.

Morgan fell trying to play a cheeky reverse sweep. Wright did his best down the order but England kept losing wickets at regular intervals and eventually collapsed with eight balls to spare.

West Indies' chase got off to a rollicking start with Gayle wasting precious little time to assert himself.

Gayle hit Tim Bresnan for four boundaries in the third over, prompting Strauss to replace the bowler with Chris Tremlett who was also promptly taken off attack after the West Indian batsman hit him for three fours and a six in his first over.

Tredwell then intervened.

The off-spinner cut short Gayle's action-packed 21-ball stay and removed Devon Smith and Darren Bravo.

Bopara got the better of Sammy and Devon Thomas to intensify the pressure and despite Russell's defiance, West Indies crumbled.

Strauss was particularly delighted with the effort of Tredwell and Wright, who were both making their Cup debuts.

“We asked a lot of questions of guys we haven't asked a lot of questions of before on this tour and they came up and delivered . . . and that's a great testament to those guys who have been waiting in the wings,” said the skipper.

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Published March 18, 2011 at 11:08 am (Updated March 18, 2011 at 11:07 am)

England still in hunt after do-or-die thriller

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