England were set a winning target of 161 in the first Twenty20 against the West Indies, with Tom Curran’s four wickets and Adil Rashid’s miserly spell keeping the chase down in St Lucia.
Curran finished with career-best figures of four for 36 as the hosts posted 160 for eight but it was Rashid’s sustained excellence which made the greatest impact. The leg-spinner only claimed one wicket but his four overs cost 15 runs to crank up the pressure.
There was also another memorable catch to add to Chris Jordan’s scrapbook, an athletic, one-handed caught and bowled accounting for Darren Bravo, while Nicholas Pooran’s career-best 58 offered the resistance.
David Willey kicked things off for England and should have been celebrating a wicket with his third ball.
After playing and missing at the previous one, Shai Hope’s top edge offered catching practice on the third man boundary where Rashid carelessly let it slip through his fingers.
Curran had better luck in his first over, drawing a leading edge from Hope that was easily gathered by Joe Root. Chris Gayle was looming ominously at the other end but failed to recreate his stunning form from the one-day series. He failed to score off five successive deliveries from Willey before unleashing a couple of sixes, steered over third man and whipped to wide long-on.
Jordan ensured that was the height of Gayle’s success, a testing wide yorker sliced to Rashid who did not repeat his earlier fumble.
Curran got lucky with a full toss that Shimron Hetmyer conspired to mis-hit straight to mid-on but a halfway total of 67 for three represented a good return for the English bowlers with 29 of their 60 legal deliveries going down as dots.
Darren Bravo and Pooran successfully clawed back some of the lost ground, adding 64 in 51 balls including three sixes off Liam Plunkett. Jordan was summoned back into the attack to break the stand and duly obliged, completing a brilliant one-handed catch after Bravo was confounded by a short slower ball.
The Windies added 58 for three more wickets in the last five overs, Fabian Allen holing out to Joe Denly and Curran removing top-scorer Pooran and Jason Holder at the death.