England ditched in Barbados again as Holder takes four wkts from as many balls in thrilling WI series win

An exhilarating series got a storybook ending tonight as West Indies beat England by 17 runs at the Kensington Oval in Barbados to clinch the Betway T20 International Series 3-2.

And it was hometown hero, Jason Holder, the man whose initial sidelining from the 2021 T20 World Cup prompted Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley to temporarily shelve her diplomatic playbook, who settled the affair with an astonishing four wickets off successive balls in the last over of the contest and broke England’s resistance.

Photo: West Indies pacer Jason Holder gets pumped at Kensington Oval in Barbados.
(via CWI Media)

On 30 November 2021, Barbados ditched Queen Elizabeth and the British Monarchy and formally became a republic. And the island clearly was not joking around where glory-hunting Brits are concerned.

The English cricketers will now return home empty-handed from this particular excursion, perhaps leaving stand-in captain Moeen Ali asking himself what exactly went wrong.

In a see-saw contest, Ali thought he had muzzled the West Indies batsmen as the hosts ended the 16th over on 113 for 4, only for his opposite number Kieron Pollard and accomplice Rovman Powell to plunder 66 runs from the final four overs.

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And Ali might have felt that, at 86 for 2 off the first 10 overs with himself and James Vince at the crease, his side were well poised. But that was before Holder claimed Ali’s scalp and spinners Akeal Hosein and Fabian Allen hemmed in the tourists to set the stage for the former captain’s sensational finish.

To say Pollard needed this win would be an understatement that only former West Indies women’s cricketer-turned-commentator Stacy-Ann King could make with a straight face.

Photo: ‘Polly’ celebrates a cracking win!
West Indies captain Kieron Pollard had the last laugh at Kensington Oval as West Indies defeated England by 17 runs to win the Betway Series 3-2.
(via CWI Media)

“It’s wonderful,” said Pollard, after the contest. “Every single one in that dressing room, we rallied together. Every time we won a game, there was something against us. But we came out and rallied.”

For much of this week, Pollard was on the receiving end of short-pitched stuff from West Indies cricket fans after a thunderstorm in a thimble regarding his use of bowling allrounder Odean Smith and, to a lesser extent, off-colour batsman and compatriot Darren Bravo.

Today, the selectors reintroduced the former and dropped the latter. But there could be no suggestion that the captain was doing anything different from what he has always done, which is search unapologetically for the winning formula for West Indies cricket.

Pollard won the toss and, for the first time, opted to bat. And there were some unorthodox choices, as slugger Romario Shepherd came in at number three while Powell was belatedly introduced at number six.

Photo: West Indies allrounder Romario Shepherd attacks a delivery during the December 2021 Homage Series in Pakistan.

The first decision did not look too clever as Shepherd was at sea against England’s front-line spinners. He lasted just five balls before Liam Livingstone sank his boat.

And certainly the tourists looked to have the upper hand as overs 11 to 16 passed without a single West Indies boundary. But Powell, presumably kept back until star England spinner Adil Rashid was out of the attack, played his part in an unbeaten 74-run fifth-wicket partnership as the Maroon Men got to 179 for 4.

Pollard and Powell combined to take 18, 15, 14 and 19 respectively off England’s last four overs.

Ali admitted that England are ‘still working on’ their death bowling, perhaps a second bit of blindingly obvious insight worthy of Ms King.

“I thought they played some amazing shots towards the end,” said Ali. “We’re trying to find solutions and we will get better and some of our other guys come back. The new ball comes on nicely and then when it gets older [it gets harder]. 

Photo: Lost ball win?
West Indies captain Kieron Pollard tries to keep sight of his shot during ICC 2021 World Cup action against Australia at Sheikh Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates on 6 November 2021. (Copyright AAP Image/ David Gray)

“But they were very smart, the smarter of the two teams.”

Is it saying something that the nicest thing anyone has said about Pollard this week came from an Englishman?

At the halfway mark, though, Rashid felt confident about the visitors’ chances.

“Confident we’ve got the batters, a destructive line-up,” he said. “[We have to] stick to our plans and be positive.”

Rashid has good personal reason to be enthused about facing the West Indies. He has 22 wickets from 13 T20I against the Maroon Men at an average of 10.95, an economy rate of 5.69 and a strike rate of 11.5, figures he has not bettered against any other cricket nation.

But his teammates have not fared nearly as well of late.

Photo: England stand-in captain Moeen Ali (right) congratulates star bowler Adil Rashid.
(via Yahoo Sports)

Star opener Jason Roy, who had posted scores of 6, 45, 19 and 52 in the series so far, managed just eight before he was caught behind by an alert Nicholas Pooran off Hosein.

And by the fourth over, it was 40 for 2 as Odean Smith had Tom Banton caught off the fourth legitimate delivery of his spell. He might have had two scalps in his first over too, had Holder held on to an easy chance in the slips off Ali.

It was a far cry from the unruffled 59-run partnership for the first wicket by West Indies openers Brandon King and Kyle Mayers. However, Vince and Ali got the scoreboard ticking again as England matched their hosts’score after the first 10 overs.

Then Pollard called up Hosein again. His wicket celebrations were almost as confuffling as his deliveries, but the end justified the means. 

At the other end, fellow left-arm spinner Fabian Allen was as miserly as the taxman and the English run-rate slowed considerably.

Photo: West Indies spinner Akeal Hosein (right) celebrates the wicket of England batsman Jason Roy with wicketkeeper Nicholas Pooran during the fifth T20I at Kensington Oval, Barbados on 30 January 2022.
(Copyright Getty Images)

By the end of their spell, England were 132 for 6 and searching for 48 from 18 deliveries. Hosein had four wickets for 30 runs while Allen had conceded just 17 from his three wicket-less overs.

For over number 18, Pollard handed the ball to Smith. Show us what you can do, young man.

Sam Billings and Chris Jordan spanked the green pacer for 20 runs, including two sixes and a four. The England target was now a manageable 28 from 14 balls.

For number 19, Pollard turned to Sheldon Cottrell, a pacer with a stare so intimidating that he could turn milk into yogurt. Neither Billings nor Jordan could hit him over the ropes.

Only eight came from that over.

With England on 160 for 6, Pollard had to defend 20 runs in the final over. He sent for the man he replaced as captain, the man whom the selectors had not even named in the 15-member squad they picked to defend the T20 World Cup last year.

Photo: West Indies pacer Jason Holder puts his hand up.
(Copyright AFP/ Getty)

Look elsewhere for grudges, fellahs.

Holder’s first delivery is a no-ball that Billings takes a single off. Now, 18 needed off six balls. Ouch!

His next delivery, a free-hit, is much better. It deceives Jordan. A precious dot ball.

By now, Kensington Oval is on its feet.

May we have some more of that? Hah. Holder has even better in store.

There is a blur of desperate, heaving English arms, three simple catches in the outfield and a clipped bail and England are all out for 162. Holder has the rare distinction of four successive wickets.

There have been drunken men stumbling out of the pub who managed more dignified exits than Ali’s troops and, somewhere watching the tele, Prince Charles probably spat out his drink.

Credit to the gracious defeated captain, though.

Photo: West Indies captain Kieron Pollard (right) takes the toss with stand-in England captain Moeen Ali during the 2022 Betway T20I Series.
(Copyright Getty)

“I thought West Indies were the better team and overall we didn’t adapt that well. But we played some good cricket and it was a very good series,” said Ali. “[…] It’s been a great learning [experience]. These conditions we’ve struggled in, we want to get better going forward.”

Unsurprisingly, Holder quite enjoyed the finale.

“Classic finish, not the best of starts but [we were] trying to stay in the game,” said Holder, who ended with his first five-wicket haul in T20 cricket. “I pride myself on [not bowling] no-balls. Pleased with how I came back. Bowled a dot ball next up and then they had to come hard. 

“[I’m] pumped up for the moment. I love playing at Kensington Oval; we have the best fans in the world.”

Pollard said little but his bat and the team’s cricket spoke for him.

Presumably former WICB president Dave Cameron will have a very quiet night on Twitter.

Photo: West Indies captain Kieron Pollard (far right) leads his troops out into battle during the 2022 Betway T20I Series against England.
(via CWI Media)

(Match summary)

Toss: West Indies 

West Indies: 179 for 4 (Kieron Pollard 41*, Rovman Powell 35*, Brandon King 34, Kyle Mayers 31; Adil Rashid 2/17, Liam Livingstone 2/17)

England: 162 all out (James Vince 55, Sam Billings 41; Jason Holder 5/27, Akeal Hosein 4/30)

Man-of-the-Match: Jason Holder 

Player-of-the-Series: Jason Holder 

Result: West Indies win by 17 runs 

West Indies win five-match series 3-2 


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About Lasana Liburd

Lasana Liburd
Lasana Liburd is the managing director and chief editor at Wired868.com and a journalist with over 20 years experience at several Trinidad and Tobago and international publications including Play the Game, World Soccer, UK Guardian and the Trinidad Express.

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