Match Report – WI vs ENG 3rd ODI, December 09, 2023

West Indies 191 for 6 (Carty 50, Jacks 3-22) beat England 206 for 9 (Duckett 71, Forde 3-29, Joseph 3-61) by four wickets (DLS method)

West Indies secured a long-awaited 2-1 series win over England with victory by four wickets in the third ODI in Barbados

Not since 2007 had they enjoyed a 50-over success against England, who themselves craved a positive result here to move on from their abject title defence at the World Cup. West Indies, who failed to make it to India after falling in the qualifier, also registered their first bilateral win against a Full Member nation in more than two-and-a-half years.

It was a largely torturous affair after rain that delayed the start by two hours and then interrupted England’s innings, which began as a 43-over affair before morphing into a 40-over one. The tourists scraped 206 for 9 before another delay, which left West Indies needing 188 from 34 overs, a target they achieved with 14 balls to spare.

Debutant Matthew Forde set things in motion in front of his home crowd, taking 3 for 29 to reduce England to 49 for 5 inside 10 overs. Keacy Carty then showed his class with a second career half-century, after making 16 and a duck in his first two knocks of the series, before Romario Shepherd repeated his 28-ball cameo from Antigua, scoring an unbeaten 41 this time to take them over the line.

For England and Jos Buttler, who lost the toss and returned a first-ball duck, it was another blow to wear in what has been a harrowing winter for the ODI set-up. That being said, they were favourites on the home stretch, thanks to a fine spell of 3 for 22 from Will Jacks. The Surrey opener helped level the series with 73 in the second ODI and looked to be turning things with his offspin. Having not been utilised in the field during the first match, he was able to return career-best List A figures.

After sharing the honours in the two opening exchanges in Antigua, this showdown in Barbados was supposed to provide an opportunity for both teams to secure a nourishing series win.

Having dealt with unchanged line-ups for the first two ODIs, a single tweak was made to each XI. England were pushed into action with illness ruling out Brydon Carse, giving his Durham team-mate Matthew Potts a fourth ODI cap. West Indies, however, opted for a tactical shift in rotating out Oshane Thomas for Forde.

The 21-year-old needed just 25 balls to pick up his first three wickets, utilising the moisture in the air and extra life in the pitch to give himself a day to remember. Playing in just his 13th List A match, Forde was entrusted to open the bowling and repaid Shai Hope’s faith by prising out Phil Salt at the end of the first over for his maiden dismissal.

Salt was typically bullish, flaying the second delivery over point for four, but botched a drive to Alzarri Joseph at mid-off whose catch passed the sniff test after the umpires sent it upstairs to check it was clean. Bounce then did for Zak Crawley, attempting to leave outside off stump only for the ball to lift and kiss the glove for a dolly to Alick Athanaze at second slip.

The best of the opening trio was the removal of Jacks. Forde angled one into the right-hander which held its line enough on pitching to skim Jacks’ edge through to Hope, making it 45 for 3 at the start of the ninth over – the last of the first powerplay with the revised playing conditions.

Things went from bad to comical for England in the next over. Joseph was brought into the attack for the 10th and was loose enough to field his second delivery into the leg side before throwing down the non-striker’s end stumps after Harry Brook had tipped and run for an ambitious single. Two balls later, Buttler was walking off for a golden duck having top-edged a well-directed short ball from Joseph to Gudakesh Motie down at fine leg.

And so came an all-too-familiar sense of dread from an English perspective. As impressively as Forde had begun, the situation was reminiscent of the various moments of disarray England had found themselves in during the 2023 World Cup, with a few new faces.

It was one of those new faces in Ben Duckett who set about the rebuild. Having arrived on the scene in the third over – England were only two down by then – he was an engaging presence at the crease even amid the decline at the other end.

Both he and Liam Livingstone set about ticking over, safe in the knowledge that Forde’s six overs meant they would not be seeing him for a while. They knocked about spinners Motie and Yannic Cariah with ease – the latter guided through point for the single to take Duckett to his fourth ODI score of 50 or more, from 56 deliveries.

The the pair exchanged sixes to score 17 from the 22nd over, delivered by Joseph. Duckett’s, the first of the innings, came over fine leg before Livingstone heaved over midwicket. The tide seemed to be turning, particularly when Livingstone was given a life on 31 when Carty shelled a straightforward high catch out at deep square leg after an unnecessary hack across the line.

That should have been a learning experience for the Lancashire allrounder. But he fell on 45 to an even worse shot, clothing to mid-on when trying to clear the straight boundary. A dismissal made all the worse coming 17 balls after Duckett had unwittingly prodded to midwicket to end his impressive resistance, and the sixth-wicket stand on 88.

Sam Curran and Rehan Ahmed took the score to 161 for 7 after 33 overs before more rain lopped off three further overs, putting the onus on the tail to pitch in. Joseph profited, Rehan scuffing a rising delivery through to Hope, then Curran skewing a shorter, slower delivery out to Motie at deep third. But Atkinson and Potts were able to find 35 unbeaten runs between them to take England to 206. They would have had to settle for 190 had Carty not dropped his second catch of the innings when Potts chipped to him at cover.

Atkinson carried that responsibility over the elongated innings break and into his work with the ball, striking with his second delivery as Brandon King crunched a drive straight to Jacks at cover. Athanaze and Carty then set about a run-a-ball stand of 76 which seemed to take the sting out of the chase.

Athanaze was back in the groove that allowed him to strum a classy 66 in the first ODI, driving everything overpitched, occasionally dealing with flourishes to pick boundaries through the leg side. When a googly from Rehan passed his edge and clipped off stump through to Buttler’s gloves without dislodging a bail, you wondered if the left-hander would see things through to the end.

Alas, he would be yorked by Atkinson for 44, having added just one more run, and that triggered a four-wicket collapse for just 44. Hope, the only centurion of the series after his first ODI heroics, was seen off for 15 after turning Rehan to Potts at midwicket. Shimron Hetmyer cut straight to point off Jacks, who then had Sherfane Rutherford caught at long-on.

As the required rate ticked above six-an-over, the onus was on the new batter, Shepherd. Initially, his role was to play second fiddle to Carty, who brought up a half-century from 56 deliveries. Two balls later, Carty danced down and bunted a return catch to Jacks for his third wicket, shifting the focus squarely on Shepherd. And he delivered.

His first six was a towering effort off Rehan that just cleared Crawley at long-on. Numbers two and three came in successive deliveries at the start of Atkinson’s sixth over – the most expensive of the match at 24 – both off full tosses. Forde chipped in with a flick around the corner for his first boundary, before Shepherd closed it out with a powerful straight strike all along the floor to leave just nine needed from the final 18 deliveries.

With the help of five wides from Livingstone, they would come in the next four legal deliveries, with Shepherd securing the moment of glory with a fine sweep for his sixth and final boundary.

Vithushan Ehantharajah is an associate editor at ESPNcricinfo

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