England overcame an injury outbreak with the kind of ruthless effectiveness that is the hallmark of champions to dispose of the West Indies. And there’s certainly no bigger champion in the English team than Joe Root. Captain, batsman, bowler, leader.
The Test match skipper is now used to lead the willow in his hand from the front and he did just that in scoring 100 (not out) with 101 balls to spare in the comfortable eight-wicket victory.
But by removing Shimron Hetmyer and Jason Holder, both caught and bowled, he also placed his hand up for five overs of spin that brought him two enormous West Indian scalps.
Never mind the fact that the destructive opening batsman of England Jason Roy left the field with a recurrence of a hamstring issue limping strongly. Never mind the fact that one day skipper Eoin Morgan, due to a back spasm late in the Windies innings, could barely move off the field.
With England setting the paltry target of 213 and requiring a fresh opening batsman alongside Jonny Bairstow, fellow Yorkshireman Root was there to step up to the plate and deliver in every manner to become the tournament’s leading run scorer with a current 279 tally.
The kind of tempo connected with Roy and Bairstow is an opening stand of 95 in less than 15 overs, but with the Windies pace attack sending down slightly more than a selection of all kinds of short-pitched licorice, Root could tuck in with glee.
When Jonny Bairstow was out for 45, Chris Woakes ‘ arrival at number three was both a surprise and, as it turned out, and inspired decision. Woakes had never before batted for England higher than number seven in a one-day game, but if Root can take wickets then a guy with a sound technique and with ten first-class hundreds including a Test ton to his name can definitely score runs. And he did just that in a partnership of 104 with Root with 40 out of 54 balls that took England to the chequered flag before Ben Stokes took them past it.
This performance, sadly for fans of the West Indies, was far from their previous efforts during the winter, although it was a big toss to lose. Their power hitters couldn’t really get going as Chris Woakes, Mark Wood and Jofra Archer grabbed them back with pace.
It was up to Nicholas Pooran and Hetmyer to transform their total into something significant with Chris Gayle falling for 36, but England’s bowlers just shut them down time and time again.