T20 World Cup: Adil Rashid and Moeen Ali spin England to big win on opening night

Holders West Indies capitulate at Dubai International Stadium on Saturday

So quickly did England make their presence felt in the T20 World Cup in the UAE, the Barmy Army had scarcely had chance to find their voice before a first victory was clinched.

The travelling supporters had just managed a few lines of “Everywhere we go” before Jos Buttler set the sealed on a six-wicket trouncing of West Indies at the Dubai International Stadium.

Even the margin of victory was misleading. England had stumbled over their pursuit of a meagre 56 to win, as they chased a rapid victory to provide a net run-rate boost.

The fact they did cross the line with 70 balls to spare could prove handy when the Super 12 which its business end it a few weeks’ time.

It has been eight days since cricket had last been played at this stadium. Whether the groundstaff have been able to revive the wicket after a month’s worth of traffic had passed over it in the Indian Premier League remains to be seen.

The fact the West Indies tumbled to such a paltry score in the first match of their title defence was little to do with the facilities. Even Kieron Pollard, their captain, acknowledged as much.

He said his side had “been demolished”, pointing out there were “no demons in the pitch – it was a good batting track, but not a good batting display”.

“We accept it, and we take full responsibility for what transpired,” Pollard said.

“Games like this, you want to bin as soon as possible and move on. If you try to dig too deep, you might unearth something you really don’t want to.”

One thing that certainly had not changed in the week or so since the IPL concluded in Dubai was the form of Moeen Ali.

The England allrounder had played a starring role when Chennai Super Kings amassed 192-3 to win that tournament earlier this month.

In his first competitive action since, he continued to thrive. Back then in the yellow of Chennai, it had been with the bat where he shone brightest. This time it was with the ball and in the field.

He started England’s campaign with a fine catch, retreating from mid off, to dismiss Evin Lewis. Buoyed, he then took the wickets of Lendl Simmons and Shimron Hetmyer.

By the time his four overs were finished – bowled off the reel, and with the new ball – the Caribbean side were four wickets down, and the game was as good as finished.

Even then, he was upstaged by his spin colleague, Adil Rashid. The leg-spinner took 4-2– the best figures ever by an Englishman in T20 internationals - to hurry the West Indies innings to a close.

Although England’s spinners performed well, the West Indies batsmen were certainly culpable for their own demise.

England arrived at this tournament as the top-ranked side, while the holders were way down in ninth. That said, the Caribbean side are fancied in many quarters given both their depth of experience and the number of power hitters in their line up.

The commitment to power hitting, though, was their undoing against England.

Despite Rashid’s figures, it was Moeen who earned the player of the match award.

“I think Moeen Ali read the conditions beautifully,” said Eoin Morgan, the England captain who was at the non-striker’s end as Buttler hit the winning runs.

“He took chances when his match-up was in his favour, and to take his opportunity like he has, after the success he's had in the IPL was brilliant.”

Although England have designs on something more substantial than one – albeit crushing – opening day win over the holders in this event, Morgan was delighted with the way they had performed.

“It's as good as it gets,” Morgan said. “To start our campaign like that, all credit to our bowling unit.”

Updated: October 23rd 2021, 5:25 PM