GEORGE’S: Jos Buttler and Eoin Morgan blazed centuries as England amassed 418 for six batting first against the West Indies in the fourth One-Day International at the National Stadium in Grenada on Wednesday.
Setting a target for the first time in the series, which is level at 1-1 following the washout of the third match at the same venue two days earlier, the tourists reinforced their reputation as a destructive batting unit in posting the highest-ever innings total in an ODI in the Caribbean.
Buttler led the way in a rampaging innings of 150 off just 77 balls with 12 sixes and 13 fours while his captain Morgan suffered only by comparison to the wicketkeeper-batsman’s astonishing innings as he reached 103 off 88 deliveries with six sixes and eight fours decorating his innings.
Their fourth-wicket partnership of 204 came in less than 21 overs and followed an excellent comeback innings of 82 by Alex Hales at the top of the order.
Having been selected to bat in the middle-order for the abandoned third match, he replaced injured Jason Roy as opener and made full use of the opportunity in ideal batting conditions.
All the West Indies bowlers suffered amid the carnage although medium-pacer Carlos Brathwaite, who started with a miserly first four overs before he eventually felt the weight of the two century-makers’ bats, had the satisfaction of taking the wickets of Buttler and Ben Stokes in the final over of the innings.
Just a week after the West Indies posted a new record tally of 23 sixes for an ODI innings, England surpassed that number by one, Buttler thrashing Brathwaite for another huge hit over deep midwicket before the big all-rounder bowled him with the next delivery.
Put in to bat after Jason Holder won the toss and gave England the challenge of batting first, the top-ranked ODI team were set on their way by an opening stand of 100 in less than 14 overs by Hales and Jonny Bairstow.
Bairstow was bowled by Oshane Thomas after the pacer was brought on as the sixth bowler.
He then removed Test captain Joe Root cheaply to catch a by wicketkeeper Shai Hope, and when Hales was taken at long-off via an excellent running catch by Shimron Hetmyer off spinner Ashley Nurse, England were 165 for three in the 26th over.
It was at that point Buttler joined an already well-set Morgan and they transformed what was already a promising innings into a record-breaking one. Their pace of scoring reached an almost breakneck speed over the final ten overs during which 154 runs were plundered.
Buttler was unstoppable at that stage, racing from 45 to 150 and leaving Holder and his bowlers helpless to stem the flood of runs.
Even though he was available to them, West Indies opted not select all-rounder Andre Russell in their final level, retaining the same team selected for the third match on Monday.
England brought in Ben Stokes, who was scheduled to miss the last match with an ankle injury as Roy was stood down with a hamstring strain.