London (AFP) – Moeen Ali again proved England’s hero with the bat as they beat West Indies by six runs in a rain-marred fourth one-day international at The Oval to go an unbeatable 3-0 up with one to play in the series.
England, without Ben Stokes after he was dropped following his arrest, were on course for defeat at 181 for five chasing 357 to win.
But Ali, fresh from his match-winning century in the third ODI at Bristol on Sunday, made an unbeaten 48 off 25 balls including six fours and two sixes.
Together with Jos Buttler (43 not out), he added 77 in eight overs.
England were ahead under D/L when rain stopped play with their score on 258 for five off 35.1 overs
Yet the match might have been beyond them had Evin Lewis, who made a stunning 176, not retired hurt in the 47th over after deflecting a Jake Ball delivery onto his right ankle.
It was later announced that man-of-the-match Lewis, who had to be wheeled off the field on a stretcher and went to hospital without fielding, had suffered a hairline fracture that would sideline him for at least two weeks.
Defeat was also tough on West Indies paceman Alzarri Joseph, who took all of England’s wickets during an ODI best haul of five for 56.
– ‘Unfortunate’ –
“Evin set the tone for us up front,” said West Indies captain Jason Holder. “Unfortunately he was unable to bat in the last few overs.
“It’s not often one guy scores 170, another gets five wickets and you lose the game.”
Lewis’s innings, which surpassed his previous ODI hundred of 148 against Sri Lanka in Bulawayo in November last year, was the cornerstone of West Indies’ 356 for five.
He was eyeing a double century until his freak injury left him writhing in agony.
The 25-year-old Trinidad left-hander remained unbeaten, having faced 130 balls including 17 fours and seven sixes.
His innings was the fourth highest in ODIs by a West Indies batsman.
The Windies had slumped to 33 for three following Chris Woakes’s treble strike that included the fourth ball exit of Lewis’s fellow left-handed opener Chris Gayle who made a dashing 94 in Bristol.
This match took place just hours after England unveiled their Ashes squad.
They knew they would be without all-rounder Stokes — included in the Ashes party and retained as Test vice-captain — after his arrest in the early hours of Monday morning.
Stokes, who has a broken finger, remains under investigation after being released without charge.
Victorious England captain Eoin Morgan told reporters there might need to be a re-think regarding nights out.
“We’ve always policed it ourselves, (but) it’s something we’re going to look into –- in light of what’s happened -– because we need to look after each other as a team,” he said.
As for the match, Morgan said: “Evin Lewis played well. We were up against it, but it was an extremely confident innings (from Ali).”
Lewis completed a chanceless century, off 94 balls.
Often billed as Gayle’s heir apparent, Lewis — a far shorter and less muscular batsman — hit two sixes in as many balls off fast bowler Liam Plunkett, the second a magnificent straight drive.
He was missed on 122 when Jason Roy, running back from cover, dropped a tough chance.
Roy, only recalled after fellow opener Alex Hales was omitted together with Stokes after the pair were out late prior to the latter’s arrest, cashed in with 84 on his Surrey home ground.
His 66-ball innings ended when he was caught behind off Joseph to end an opening stand of 126 with Jonny Bairstow (39), who fell in similar fashion.
West Indies must have thought it was their night when Joseph took his fifth wicket via a diving slip catch by Gayle, not renowned for his athleticism, that dismissed Sam Billings.
But Ali and Buttler, together with the London weather, combined to give England a 15th win in 16 completed ODIs against West Indies.