Finally! Finally England have given their loyal fans back home something to cheer about.
It’s been a woeful winter for the national cricket side. They were humiliated 4-0 in the Ashes down under and started the T20I series against West Indies in the same fashion as they were hammered by nine wickets on Saturday night.
But they levelled the series by the barest of margins as they held their nerve for a thrilling one-run victory in Bridgetown.
England, the No 1 ranked T20I side in the world, reached a formidable 171/8 in their 20 overs. And they were in complete control with the hosts needing 73 off the last 29 balls.
Romario Shepherd and Akeal Hossein (both 44 not out) gave the visitors an almighty scare with some late hitting in a frantic finish.
England ultimately held on for a morale-boosting victory, but it was almost another tough to take loss in Barbados from a seemingly unlosable situation.
West Indies needed a near impossible 30 runs off the final, but Hossein channelled his inner Carlos Braithwaite — who smashed Ben Stokes for four successive sixes in the final over of the 2016 T20 World Cup — to hit the last three balls for maximums as they agonisingly fell two runs short of their target.
Towering Reece Topley, who returned impressive figures of 1/18 off his four overs, bowled the penultimate over and spared the visitor’s blushes. The left-armer, playing in his first T20I for six years, restricted the free-flowing Shepherd and Hossein to just eight as the final two overs either side were plundered to all parts of the Kensington Oval.
West Indies’ captain Kieron Pollard won the toss and elected to bowl like they did in the first game. The home side were unchanged, whilst Eoin Morgan’s England made a solitary swap as speedster Tymal Mills was replaced by Topley.
England, who were reduced to 10/3 and 49/7 in the first game, made a steady start and were 68/2 at the halfway stage. But opener Jason Roy found some fluency as he hammered Fabian Allen for 24 runs in the 11th over, including a six which went out of the ground.
Roy eventually holed out for 45, but contributions from Tom Banton (25), Moeen Ali (31), and Chris Jordan (27) got England to a respectable total.
Returning Topley made the perfect start as he removed Brandon King lbw for a golden duck. And the tall quick showed great athleticism to run out Shai Hope to leave the hosts tottering at 6/2.
England picked up wickets at regular intervals as spinner Ali (3/24) and Adil Rashid (2/24) took advantage of the extravagant spin on offer as they turned the screw like they so often do in the middle overs.
But with 61 needed from the final 18 balls Jordan and Saqib Mahmood were pumped into the stands with brutal regularity to give the hosts a glimmer of an incredibly unlikely victory.
Shepherd blasted five sixes, whilst Hossein’s quick-fire unbeaten 44 came from just 16 balls as England just about secured victory to level the series 1-1.
The third match of the five-game series takes place on Wednesday night and hopefully it will be another blockbuster affair.