England win after West Indies collapse

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The Independent Online

England scraped past West Indies' big hitters to reclaim a likely World Cup quarter-final place with another nerve-shredding 18-run victory.

Andrew Strauss' team looked sure to suffer a tournament-ending defeat while Andre Russell and Ramnaresh Sarwan were sharing a seventh-wicket stand of 72 in pursuit of 243 all out.

But James Tredwell (four for 48) and Graeme Swann (three for 36) were not done with, the former breaking the partnership and his fellow off-spinner in the wickets too as the Windies' last four fell for three runs.

England can therefore contemplate after all a flight to Delhi tomorrow for their last-eight holding camp, rather than the longer plane journey home following an early exit.

Shock victories for both the Windies and Bangladesh, in their final Group B matches, could still dash England's hopes - but the percentage call is now firmly with them entering the knockout stages.

The luck appeared to be deserting England in a tortuous campaign which has featured a series of impossibly tight finishes.

They withstood a barrage of big hitting from Chris Gayle, Darren Sammy and Kieron Pollard as the Windies rained sixes - only to run into Russell, with apparent good fortune on his side.

He counted his team's ninth and final six - England had earlier mustered just one - yet so nearly lost his wicket on 39, out of 204 for six, when Jonathan Trott fell backwards taking a fine 'catch' only for third umpire Simon Taufel to rule the fielder's wide-brimmed sun hat had by a whisker brushed against the boundary cover.

In that instant, it seemed, England might have lost their tenuous grasp on a place in the latter stages of this competition.

But Tredwell, one of three England players called up for their first action of the tournament, finally got Russell lbw on the back foot one short of what would have been this match's only half-century.

Another marginal third-umpire decision went against England from the very next ball when Sulieman Benn survived with the original not-out call thanks to DRS simulation which showed only the very top of the bails being disturbed.

Yet Swann was to deliver perhaps the most telling blow when he had Sarwan caught at short-leg. Then Kemar Roach fell to a tumbling catch at mid-off by Chris Tremlett off Swann, and fittingly a superb throw from the fine-leg boundary ran out Benn as he attempted a two - to finish the match with more than five overs unused.

Like almost all of England's other five fixtures in a nervy campaign so far, this one was too close to call almost throughout.

They knew they would have to get Gayle early in the Windies' chase - and although the destructive opener was gone by the end of the seventh over, he still did some damage.

He smashed 18 in four blows from one Tremlett over, only to go lbw pushing forward to Tredwell - unable to survive even via DRS and giving the off-spinner his first one-day international wicket.

Tredwell had a second wicket when Matt Prior got the bails off - if a little clumsily - to stump Devon Smith down the leg-side.

Darren Bravo was well-caught at slip by Strauss to give Tredwell his third; then Ravi Bopara made the most of increasingly low bounce to have Sammy and Devon Thomas edging on to their stumps.

England had earlier posted a patchy total after winning the toss in this day-night fixture.

After Trott and Strauss got their team off to a flying start, the scoring rate stagnated as wickets began to fall - and it fell to competition debutant Luke Wright to salvage a competitive total.

West Indies leg-spinner Davendra Bishoo (three for 34), on his international debut, and Russell (four for 49) shared seven wickets - while Roach put the brakes on with new and old-ball economy.

England appeared assured of a much bigger total after racing to 94 for two at the 15-over mark. But they lost momentum and then wickets - four for 30 at one stage - as the boundaries dried up.

Russell had shifted both openers, an unsuspecting Prior bowled through the gate on the back foot and Strauss mis-pulling the medium-pacer to go to a very good running catch by Gayle.

There was still no reason for concern as Trott announced himself with six fours from the first nine balls he faced - picking the gaps expertly with supreme timing past midwicket and through the off-side too.

But Trott went tamely, three runs short of a fifth half-century in six attempts when he chipped a Bishoo leg-break straight to Gayle at midwicket.

Ian Bell painstakingly played himself in only to be done for pace by the first ball of Roach's second spell.

Then Eoin Morgan's renowned innovation backfired with an unorthodox deflection into the wicketkeeper's gloves off Bishoo, as England lost two big wickets without addition.

Bopara was the third batsman bowled by pace and a suspicion of low bounce when Russell returned.

By then it was a question of how many England could eke out rather than plunder with their remaining resources.

In the absence of a specialist batsman, Wright - another of England's unexpected call-ups - batted with skill and sense.

His seventh-wicket partner Tredwell went in a run-out mix-up over a single, and Wright eventually holed out on the slog-sweep in Bishoo's final over.

England's supremacy was far from a done deal for several hours yet. But in the end, it transpired they had done just enough.