Ravi Bopara returned record bowling figures as a youthful England side thrashed West Indies by 10 wickets in the first T20 international.
Bopara took 4-10 – England’s best in the format – and Samit Patel 2-23 as Windies collapsed from 54-1 to 125 all out at the Oval.
Craig Kieswetter and Alex Hales then knocked off the runs without alarm as a lightweight Windies attack toiled. “The first wicket was crucial. It was a great win,” said captain Graeme Swann.
Captaining England for the first time, Swann fielded three debutants in Jonny Bairstow, Steven Finn and Ben Stokes and elected to field after winning the toss.
With Johnson Charles, also a debutant, and Dwayne Smith at the crease West Indies got off to a strong start, with the pair amassing 51 runs without loss on a worn and paceless pitch.
But Nottinghamshire spinner Patel got England’s first wicket when he bamboozled Smith to take his first international T20 scalp. With his final ball of his first over, the ball pitched on leg stump, before turning and clipping the top of off, with Smith on 33.
Swann was rewarded for bringing in Patel and the skipper had his first wicket a few minutes later, taking Marlon Samuels for just four, with West Indies on 61-2.
But a good spell for the West Indies saw Danza Hyatt and Charles hit three sixes in nine deliveries. But Charles was unable to make the same connection the ball after his six, picking out Finn on the straight boundary. The wicket represented the end of Patel’s contribution – a solid 2-23.
Nkruma Bonner was next to depart as Bopara got the best out of the abrasive surface with just his second delivery and he struck again with his next ball courtesy of a stunning diving catch by wicketkeeper Kieswetter.
With Barnwell wafting his bat to the off side and catching Bopara’s teasing delivery with a thin edge, Kieswetter’s acrobatic dive allowed him to make a brilliant one-handed catch and send the batsman packing for a duck and leave West Indies on 104-5.
England started to turn the screw. Ben Stokes’ run out of Russell saw West Indies stuck on 112-6 before another slow delivery from Bopara caught out Hyatt, to give Bopara figures of 3-4.
Derwin Christian and Devendra Bashoo both went for ducks before things got even better for Bopara, whose fourth wicket of the day left West Indies on 125 all out.
In England’s serene progress towards an undemanding total, Kieswetter gave England their first six courtesy of a free hit before he found the boundary with a premeditated sweep over his left shoulder to signal the 50.
But Hales was the first of the pair to reach their half century, achieving the total in 36 balls. With West Indies guilty of fielding
lapses and providing three no balls through leg-spinners overstepping, England proved ruthless with the bat and Kieswetter clinched victory when he thumped Smith down the ground to give England a stylish win over opponents they had lost to in four of the last five T20 matches.
“The season wasn’t going great for me. I know I only got 40 in the Test match but now I’m playing with a free spirit,” said man-of-the-match Bopara. “The young kids we’ve got are brilliant. It’s exciting to see and good for the team.”
The visitors will look to bounce back when the series resumes on Sunday.
Scores: England 128 for 0 (Hales 62*, Kieswetter 58*) beat West Indies 125 (Bopara 4-10) by ten wickets.
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