PALLAKELE, Sri Lanka, Sept 27 (Reuters) - Johnson Charles and Chris Gayle outgunned Eoin Morgan and Alex Hales to lead West Indies to a 15-run victory over England in an absorbing World Twenty20 Super Eight group one match on Thursday.
Man-of-the-match Charles struck 84 off 56 balls and Gayle 58 off 35 in West Indies’ imposing total of 179 for five but England recovered from losing two wickets in the opening over to get close to chasing down their target.
Morgan finished unbeaten on 71 and Hales made 68, the pair sharing a fourth-wicket partnership of 107 but, with the run rate climbing steadily, the defending champions fell short.
Ravi Rampaul had dismissed Craig Kieswetter and Luke Wright off successive deliveries in the first over but Jonny Bairstow prevented a hat-trick.
England required 23 off the final over but the dismissal of Hales, who struck two sixes and five foura, ended the defending champions hopes and they finished on 164 for four.
Morgan smashed four fours and five sixes in his 71 scored off 36 balls.
West Indies were outstanding in the field, Keiron Pollard producing a brilliant effort on the long-off boundary to catch a Bairstow shot that would have gone for six.
Charles and Gayle put together an opening stand of 103 off 66 balls for West Indies after their captain Darren Sammy had won the toss.
But once they departed, England clawed their way back into the game to keep the West Indies total within reasonable limits.
“Must give credit to the England batsman, but defending 180 I thought we had it under control at all times,” Charles told reporters. “In an international anything can happen, but we had it under control.”
Charles enjoyed his partnership with Gayle.
“If you’re batting with Gayle you know his ability, you know what he can do. You just have to give him the strike, sit back and watch,” said Charles.
“Just as Gayle can hit the ball far, I back myself to be able to hit the ball long and far and score quickly.”
Hales was pleased England managed to recover from their poor start.
“It was always going to be tough chasing down that total after being nought for two but I thought we fought back very well to give ourselves half a chance towards the end,” Hales told reporters.
“Morgan kept me going and he said it was a great opportunity for us to see England over the line in a tough situation. He was very calm.”
Sri Lanka earlier beat New Zealand in a super over after the opening match in the group had ended in a tie. (Editing by Ed Osmond)