x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

Hales hammers home credentials for England

Batsman knocks up highest score but misses ton in England's victory in lone Twenty20 game over West Indies.

Alex Hales missed out on a hundred by one run but still proved England's highest individual scorer.
Alex Hales missed out on a hundred by one run but still proved England's highest individual scorer.

Alex Hales missed out on a hundred but proved he can be the match-winner to replace Kevin Pietersen after the opener blasted England to a seven-wicket win over West Indies in the one-off Twenty20 international at Trent Bridge.

Hales fell just one run short of what would have been a deserved century - but still the highest ever score by an England batsman - when he was bowled by Ravi Rampaul in the penultimate over with just four required to win.

Along with Ravi Bopara (59), who shared a 159-run stand with Hales, West Indies' difficult-looking 172 for four was chased down with two balls to spare.

Pietersen's premature retirement from limited-overs cricket earlier this summer has left England relying on a talented but young batting line-up.

Hales, who at 1.98 metres has the same towering presence at the crease as Pietersen, put his hand up with a 99 from 68 balls, and included four sixes.

"It is an opportunity," Hales said. "I'm happy with the way I played today but there's still a lot of [domestic] cricket this season and hopefully I can keep myself in the frame for the next few games.

"It's very mixed emotions to have not made the hundred. But I'm very happy with the 99 and for England to get the win."

Hales also paid compliment to Bopara. After the early loss of Craig Kieswetter, Hales took the lead role as Bopara was content to operate at a run a ball.

"We felt 170 was around par on this wicket and I thought Ravi batted exceptionally well and set the game up nicely. Ravi's a great guy to bat with," added Hales, playing in his fifth Twenty20 for England.

The tourists had looked in pole position when, after Chris Gayle's early dismissal left them in trouble, Dwayne Smith blasted 70 before unbeaten pair Dwayne Bravo (54) and Kieron Pollard (23) crashed 63 from the final four overs.

That left an inexperienced England batting line-up, containing four batsmen with less than nine Twenty20 international appearances, under pressure to perform with just four games before the world champions are due to fly out to Sri Lanka for their title defence in September.