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West Indies vs England 3rd T20 preview: Eoin Morgan's side look to build on heart-stopping one-run victory with the series tied at 1-1
With the five-match series all square, West Indies host England in the third T20 international - live on BT Sport 1HD this Wednesday.
After a miserable run of 84 days and eight matches without a win in any format of the game, England cricket finally tasted victory as they beat West Indies to level the five-match series at 1-1 on Sunday evening.
Having been bowled out for just 103 in a nine-wicket defeat on Saturday, England finally found some form with the bat to square the series with three games left to play.
Opener Jason Roy’s knock of 45 runs off 31 balls plus a handy cameo of 31 off 25 balls from Moeen Ali helped set the hosts a healthy target of 172 to win.
The tourists looked to be cruising to a series-levelling victory when their opponents crumbled from 47 for two to 65 for seven in pursuit of the total, with Ali taking format-best figures of three for 24.
But a swashbuckling, record-breaking 72-run ninth-wicket partnership between Romario Shepherd and Akeal Hosein almost snatched a famous win for the hosts.
Shepherd blasted five sixes in his 44 not out, while Hosein's unbeaten 44 came from only 16 balls to make England's margin of victory so much tighter than it should have been, as they held on for a one-run win.
How to watch England in West Indies
It all makes for a mouth-watering third encounter on Wednesday evening as the two former T20 World Cup-winning sides slug it out again in Barbados.
Despite the defeat, West Indies’ counter-attacking blitz was a timely reminder of their prowess in this format of the game and Ali was quick to praise the hosts' “scary” batting firepower.
“The fact they bat all the way down to number 10 makes them extremely dangerous,” he told BT Sport.
“For them to lose by one run, it’s actually quite scary, their batting line-up is very scary.
“We’re glad to get the win but we could do a lot of things better. It is a lesson for the guys. We know we haven’t even played that well there and we still won the game.”
When asked who had the momentum going into Wednesday’s match, Ali insisted the series was delicately poised.
“If we were 2-0 down, they would certainly be taking all of the momentum. But I think both teams will be pretty happy right now,” he said.
“We know we can play better and they know that they really put us under pressure here, particularly at the end. But for most of the game we dominated.
“They can take a lot of positives and confidence from this but we did win the game so they will be very wary that we are going to try to perform better. I think it’s going to be a very tight series.”
Aside from the result, the impressive return of Reece Topley was a huge boost for England’s hopes of winning the series.
Making his first appearance in this format of the game for over six years, Topley picked up figures of 1-18 from his four overs, plus a remarkable run-out to dismiss West Indies opener Shai Hope.
If Topley impressed, another member of England’s seam attack had an evening to forget as Chris Jordan proved expensive with the ball.
The Sussex all-rounder contributed a handy 27 with that bat, but leaked 23 runs from the 18th over as the West Indies threatened to take the game away from England.
Ahead of tonight's match, England coach Paul Collingwood admitted Jordan his fellow death bowlers need to improve their accuracy to avoid another nervy finish.
He said: “CJ gives you a lot in other parts of the game, of course. He’s the perfect kind of T20 cricketer. But in the end that death bowling is something we need to improve on.
“We can’t hide away from the fact that it is an area that, if we get right, then it is a very formidable side. We just have to make sure that we can rely on four or five to do the job at any given time.
“Whether it’s CJ, whether it’s Reece Topley, Tymal Mills, Mark Wood, Chris Woakes, Jofra Archer when he gets himself fit – there’s a lot of players out there who can do the job.”
While England have plenty to work on after an anxious end to the game, West Indies captain Kieron Pollard was optimistic in defeat with some uncharacteristic clangers in the field the only other blot on their copybook.
Having caught so well in the opening game, the hosts were sloppy in the field on Sunday evening, shelling two catches as England plundered an above-average score.
“The way the guys fought at the back end, we knew what they could do. These guys can hit the ball a long way,” said Pollard as his side fell agonisingly short of a famous win.
“The faith and the confidence Akeal [Hosein] has is tremendous, he has been working on his batting. But spare a word for [Romario] Shepherd as well, the way that he batted, put up his hand and showed responsibility.
“Our biggest disappointment today was our fielding display, which is the fine line between winning and losing.”
The hosts have the opportunity to right those wrongs on Wednesday as the third instalment of this fascinating series looms large.
Watch the third Twenty20 between West Indies and England from 7.30pm on BT Sport 1HD on Wednesday 26 January.