ODI 4: Strauss Emerges from the Gloom, Helps England Square Series


Just when it appeared that dark clouds had descended (literally and metaphorically speaking), the England skipper rose to the challenge and banished away the gloom.
England had appeared to sink to new lows after the third ODI when they were dramatically and comprehensively taken apart. West Indies though appeared to have tide over their off field problems. Both scenarios proved deceptive as England went on to win the fourth ODI and squaring the series two all.
It was a day when the West Indies batting never quite got together. England brought in Steve Harmison again after nearly abandoning him. But it was Dmitri Mascarenas who livened up matters for England along with Stuart Broad to put the brakes on the Caribbean carnival, at least on the field.
West Indies salvage did not come till Dwayne Bravo returned successfully from surgery as these last two matches would show. His sixty-nine from seventy-two balls cannot be undermined from the weight lent to the fragile West Indian innings. It may not have looked so brittle was Gayle was making those forty-six runs or Shivnarine Chanderpaul showed promise on twenty-seven. But the West Indies required a rescue act and it came in the form of another impressive cameo from Bravo.
But in a match that saw lengthy rain delays, it almost appeared as if the game would be called off. The late possible resumption meant that the number of overs was now reduced to twenty and England had to get 135 runs. And it was the skipper once again who did the talking with the bat.
Andrew Strauss had weather fair and foul weather on this tour. But his batting has, for the most part, been energetic. Once again he showed he was not rusty from being left out of the shorter version of the game and out in the cold for over two years before captaincy came knocking on his door with a rider.
Strauss was responsible for England squaring the series simply because of his innings that put paid to any notions about a possible West Indies series victory. Trashing seventy-nine from just sixty-one balls, Strauss played an uncharacteristic innings that showed he was ready to lead his team from the front and lead them onto success.
Strauss will now hope to capture not only his form but also, the confidence of the England dressing room in pushing the agenda forward of his captaincy through to the World Twenty20 slated to take place in the UK come June. Before that though, there is the small matter of trying to wrest this series out of the hosts in a final bolt of thunder.

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