Moeen Ali’s blistering ton helped England take an unassailable lead in the five-match One-Day International series as they trounced Windies by 124 runs at the County Ground in Bristol on Sunday (September 24). After the second game was rained out, England managed to take a 2-0 lead by winning the third ODI thanks to Moeen, who smashed the second fasted ODI ton by an English batsman – 102 off 57 – to help the home team post a mammoth 369 for 9. Liam Plunkett and Adil Rashid then picked up eight wickets between them to bowl the visitors out for 245.
Soon after England posted the highest total at the venue, all eyes were fixed on the response from Chris Gayle. If Windies had to even challenge England, Gayle had to fire. He did – smashing 94 off 78 – but was run out in the 27th over. Although it wasn’t quite the belligerence that Gayle used to showcase when he was at his prime, he did find an effective way to keep the runs flowing. Even when they had lost three early wickets, Gayle kept the team afloat for the first part of the chase before it fell apart for them rather quickly.
As is the case in such chases, a lone hand seldom wins the game. The biggest worry, even when the opener kept England on their toes with nine fours and six sixes, was finding partners for Gayle. The Gayle-Shai Hope stand and the Gayle-Jason Mohammed partnership promised a lot but failed to produce the desired result.
As it turned out, Gayle’s wicket led to things going pear shaped for Windies and they failed to recover from that blow. Evin Lewis threatened early on with two sixes but couldn’t carry on. Hope could only contribute 20 while Marlon Samuels, who was at the receiving end of a debatable decision, registered his third low score of the series.
All this while, England managed to tie down Gayle but the left-hander was also quick to pounce on anything loose to keep the runs flowing. He reached his half-century in just 39 balls before opening up. Moeen was tonked for three consecutive sixes, whiled helped Gayle into the 90s before all the hopes that had skyrocketed crashed like a comet.
On a day where a century was needed from Gayle and several decent supporting roles, all Windies could manage was one half-century and another shoddy performance with both bat and ball. Plunkett picked up 5 for 52 while Rashid finished with 3 for 34 to add to the misery and cap off a successful day the office for the hosts.
Earlier, Windies did well in patches to put England under pressure but failed to drive home the advantage. After England were reduced to 74 for 3, Joe Root (84) and Ben Stokes (73) were able to rebuild with ease. Windies meandered along, waiting for things to happen as the duo registered brisk half-centuries. Their 132-run association came in 20.4 overs before Stokes was dismissed by Rovman Powell. England then lost the dangerous Jos Buttler for just 2 to slip to 210 for 5. The onus was back on Root to guide the innings forward and take England to a total past 300.
That wasn’t the case as England’s No. 3 fell to Cummins and the hosts found themselves in a tricky position at 217 for 6. At that stage, Windies were ahead and in with a splendid opportunity to close out the innings. Even with England batting deep, there should have been more alertness and intent on the field. With both those aspects missing, England were again able to come out of the precarious situation and put Jason Holder and his men under pressure.
What followed was Moeen-mayhem. He scored a 41-ball fifty and then effortlessly changed gears, swatting any challenge that came his way to canter to a ton in just 53 balls. He scored 61 runs off 14 balls to shoot from 39 to 100. After taking Cummins for 24 in the 45th over, he followed it up with 24 off Holder’s over.
Moeen received a reprieve when Gayle dropped him on 88. The 117-run collaboration between Moeen and Woakes was enough to dent Windies and take England past 329 – the previous highest total at the venue. He got to the landmark depositing Cummins for two sixes, leaving the visitors deflated and England to a hefty total that proved too much for Windies in the end.
Brief scores: England 369/9 in 50 overs (Moeen Ali 102, Joe Root 84, Ben Stokes 73; Miguel Cummins 3-82) beat Windies 245 in 39.1 overs (Chris Gayle 94; Liam Plunkett 5-52) by 124 runs.