Captain Cook steers England to series success
ENGLAND cruised to an eight-wicket win over West Indies at The Oval, on the back of a century from Alastair Cook, to wrap up the NatWest Series a match early.
Cook (112), pictured, shared a century opening stand with Ian Bell (53) and then put on 81 for the second wicket with Jonathan Trott as England raced past West Indies' 238-9 with five overs to spare to establish an unassailable 2-0 lead.
The hard work was done, though, when Cook's bowling attack withstood an early barrage from Chris Gayle (53) and restricted the West Indies to an under-par total, despite a fine 77 from Dwayne Bravo.
On a typically reliable Oval batting surface of even pace and bounce, Cook and Bell duly put England's achievable target into context.
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There was barely a false shot from either as Cook won the race to 50, until Bell forewent the chance of his own second successive hundred by loosely pushing a change of pace from Darren Sammy straight into the hands of cover.
Cook made no mistake, until he lobbed a cutter from Sammy over the bowler to be caught by mid-on, as he extended a sequence of six centuries from an England opener in consecutive one-day internationals – a series the captain himself began with back-to-back hundreds against Pakistan in Abu Dhabi.
Unsurprisingly, six victories have resulted, Cook underpinning the latest with his fifth hundred at this level.
The ease of England's victory was hardly in the offing when Gayle was demonstrating his renowned raw power with five sixes and three fours in a 41-ball 50 at the top of the order.