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England secured a final match against West Indies as Phil Salt leads the way with a record-breaking T20 score.

England appeared to be stuck in a difficult situation after losing two consecutive matches in the shorter format, following their defeat in the previous one-day internationals. Their confidence was visibly low. However, the team’s performance has undergone a significant and comprehensive change since then. Rather than a mere shift in momentum, England has completely transformed their approach. They have not only disregarded their previous form, but also made a mark in cricket history.

Once again, this team instilled fear in their opponents. England had expressed their intention to use this tour to gain knowledge about the local conditions, and they demonstrated their mastery of it on this night. Phil Salt achieved an impressive score of 119, while Jos Buttler and Liam Livingstone contributed with 50s each. Despite being asked to bat first, they managed to reach a seemingly impossible total of 267 for three. This kind of daunting score often leads chasing teams to take risky actions that are not sustainable. The West Indies team, known for their aggressive batting, was considered ideal for the task at hand. However, even they were unable to overcome the challenge and lost all their wickets in the 16th over, falling short by 75 runs.

It seems appropriate to run through some of the records that were set here. England’s total was their highest in Twenty20 games, beating by a margin of 26 their effort against New Zealand in Napier four years ago. It was the highest score achieved by a Test-playing nation after being put in to bat, beating Australia’s 263 for three against Sri Lanka in 2016 – indeed only once, when Afghanistan scored 278 against Ireland in 2019, has a Test-playing team bettered it batting first. And along the way Phil Salt scored the highest total achieved by an Englishman in the format, beating Alex Hales’s 116 against Sri Lanka in 2014, to become the first player from his country to score two T20 centuries. Just four days ago he had not scored any.

On Tuesday, Salt went unsold at the Indian Premier League auction, which was confusing at the time and became even more puzzling as he continued to hit powerful shots with precise timing. Salt’s main responsibility on the team is to establish the tempo, and he did just that by hitting six and four off consecutive deliveries from debutant Matthew Forde in the first over.

After facing only 57 balls, he was able to score 88 runs in boundaries before leaving the game. At that point, England had already achieved a total of 246 runs. The fielders were left with little to do as they watched the ball fly over or beyond their reach, only to retrieve it afterwards.

Although the attempt to also have him play as wicket-keeper was not a resounding success, Salt’s position as the lead batter for England is now unquestionable. In their last two games, England has achieved two of the top six opening partnerships in their 182-game T20 record, with Salt and Buttler scoring 115 runs on Saturday and 117 runs in the current match.

England’s Liam Livingstone lashes out on his way to a half-century

This was a significant improvement in multiple aspects. It was also the quickest among all of England’s opening partnerships with a score of more than 100. The only other opening partnership in the nation’s history that comes close in terms of score and speed was the 77 runs achieved by the same players in the first game of the series in Barbados.

Buttler and Livingstone both scored half-centuries, matching Buttler’s previous feat in Grenada three days prior. This was Livingstone’s second international T20 half-century and his first in two and a half years, adding to the impressive batting performance. The captain had the slowest scoring rate, but still managed a strike rate of 189.65.

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The West Indies had a slim chance of beating England’s high score by scoring aggressively from the beginning without losing any wickets. They were able to achieve one of these goals.

They were able to score 100 runs in only 40 balls, while England took 52 balls to reach the same score. Out of those 40 balls, 47.5% of them were hit for boundaries, with one coming off Rovman Powell’s legs instead of his bat. However, 10% of those balls resulted in losing wickets, including the first one of the innings.

At one moment, the numerous boundaries and impressive strength of the players seemed almost laughable. By the end, there were a total of 70 boundaries scored in just 213 valid deliveries. Although England couldn’t control the abundance of runs, their opponents also struggled to prevent losing wickets. Andre Russell eventually became West Indies’ last chance for victory. He reached his half-century with back-to-back boundaries against Reece Topley, but was then caught on the next ball. The outcome of the series will be determined on Thursday, but England’s path to success now appears clear.

Source: theguardian.com