Hundred hero Ali ‘presses the button’ in England six-fest
Hundred hero Ali ‘presses the button’ in England six-fest
Ali struck England’s second-fastest ODI hundred off just 53 balls, with his second fifty coming in a world record 12 deliveries.
His 102 was the cornerstone of a total of 369 for nine — England’s highest in ODIs against West Indies.
Despite an impressive 94 from the returning Chris Gayle, it proved too much for the visitors to chase with England winning by the commanding margin of 124 runs on Sunday to go 2-0 up with two to play in this five-match series.
Once Gayle was run out by Adil Rashid, West Indies’ innings fell away with England fast bowler Liam Plunkett taking five for 52 — his maiden ODI five-for — as the tourists were dismissed for 245 with a whopping 65 balls, or more than 10 overs, to spare.
Ali hit eight sixes and Gayle six in a match featuring 28 in total, with both left-handed batsmen taking advantage of the short straight boundaries at southwest county Gloucestershire’s headquarters.
“I just had a slog really, and everything just seemed to come off,” all-rounder Ali, known for being an elegant stroke-player, told reporters.
“I thought we’d got ourselves in, and it was time to press the button and play a few shots — it’s not a massive hit for six (here).”
West Indies, who’ve now lost 14 of their last 15 completed ODIs against England, actually started impressively with the ball to restrict the home side to just 18 runs off the first five overs.
“We just didn’t finish off well,” said a rueful West Indies captain Jason Holder, who won the toss and fielded.
“They (England) bat deep. He (Ali) has played a special innings. I think we didn’t execute our plans toward him.
“It’s a small ground and he backed himself to clear it.”
One consolation for West Indies was the innings of Gayle, long one of the world’s leading limited-overs batsmen.
He had marked his 38th birthday on Thursday by injuring his hamstring just before the toss while warming up and so missing a rainswept no-result in the second ODI at Trent Bridge.
But the Jamaica opener was near his blistering best in Bristol.
“It was very special,” said Holder of the veteran’s 78-ball innings, which also featured nine fours.
“Not only did he get the start we wanted, he carried on and batted into the innings.
“That was important, the longer he stays out there, the more England fear (losing).”
Meanwhile Holder insisted there was a far more thoughtful side to Gayle than might be apparent from a player who revels in a ‘cool’ image with the self-created nickname of the ‘Universe Boss’.
“Chris is always a relaxed guy but, if you go to him, you’d be surprised by the amount of information you get from him,” said Holder.
“I’ve been privy to having a few chats with him in the last couple of days and it’s been wonderful.”
This series has seen Gayle return to ODIs after a two-year dispute with Caribbean cricket chiefs and Barbados all-rounder Holder added: “He’s shared a lot of information and helped me out a lot on the field.
“It’s really good to have a guy like him playing for you. Hopefully his body will allow to him carry on a lot longer.”
Holder was adamant that West Indies, the World Twenty20 champions, were “not too far off” becoming a competitive side in the 50-over game.
“We just need to knuckle down a little more, especially when we bat,” he explained ahead of Wednesday’s fourth ODI at The Oval in London.
“’Death’ bowling has obviously been a cause for concern in the recent past and we really need to tighten up there as well.”
Virgil van Dijk sets sights on an awesome foursome of trophies for Liverpool
LIVERPOOL: Virgil van Dijk wants to create history with Liverpool this season as he set his sights on an unprecedented quadruple of trophies.
The Anfield outfit are full of confidence after recording six successive wins at the start of a season for the first time since 1961.
Having reached the Champions League final in the previous campaign, they opened up this one with a thrilling 3-2 victory over Paris Saint-Germain thanks to an injury-time strike from Roberto Firmino after the French champions had pulled back a two-goal deficit.
While pundits have suggested Liverpool should prioritize the Premier League, van Dijk said they have the belief to do even better.
“Everyone is excited, feeling good, wanted to be part of this,” he said. “We know the season is very long, four competitions to play and we want to win everything. That’s basically our mindset. You need to have ambitions.
“With the size of this club, the people around here and with the history, we want to try to win everything. It’s going to be hard, we know it’s something very difficult to do, but we are going to try. That’s what we are here for.
“I’ve enjoyed every bit since I arrived here and hope to keep going. I want to win things, create memories here and write history as well with all of these boys.”
The Dutch defender also feels rivals will see Liverpool as contenders for the big prizes having overcome Neymar and Co.
“We were not in the [Champions League] final last season for no reason,” he added. “I think we should have already got the respect, but this season is new.
“Everyone starts over and we need to show it in every game. We need to keep going, keep improving, but also enjoy it. It’s the highest stage.
“If you are going to be on the pitch and you don’t believe it [that you can beat teams like this] then you need to stay home. You need to believe in your team. I have the belief. I’m enjoying it. You want to play in these games, you want to play these clubs. I think it’s a great time to be a Liverpool player.
“If you look at the team, the whole squad, players who are not even in there and have so much potential, so much quality, it says a lot about our team.”