Phil Salt savoured a “special” hundred as England outmuscled West Indies to keep the five-match T20 series alive with a thrilling last-over victory in Grenada.
The Windies raced to an imposing 222 for six, adding 79 in the last four overs and racking up a ground record 16 sixes but the landmark lasted just a couple of hours thanks mainly to Salt’s maiden T20 ton.
A sparkling 109 not out off 56 balls contained half of England’s 18 maximums but the opener seemed to be feeling the effects of a sweltering afternoon as the match built to a must-watch crescendo.
Needing 21 from the last over, Harry Brook hit Andre Russell for four and capitalised on the veteran missing his mark to thump three sixes and finish on 31 not out as England won with one delivery left.
“I have been a bit shocked at times with the raw power the West Indies have,” said Salt.
“The ball is not just going 10 metres over, it’s a good 30, 40, 50 metres over the fence.
“Sometimes you are genuinely in awe of it, they’re powerful lads, they can hit balls for six that maybe I couldn’t hit for six. But to out-six them, it shows that we’ve got what it takes.
“We can talk about what I did, but what Brooky did was probably more important in the context of the game, coming in with 37 needed off 13.
“I don’t know what the probability of winning would have looked like, but it was a hell of a knock and there is no more special feeling than walking off a ground in an England shirt, winning the game.”
Salt was given the benefit of the doubt on-field when he was on six after Jason Holder thudded into his pads in the second over, with technology showing the ball would have brushed leg-stump.
“As soon as I saw it, I thought: that’s stone dead,” said Salt with a chuckle. “It was just clipping and sometimes you need that bit of luck.”
Salt took advantage as he became just the fifth Englishman to hit a T20 century but Jos Buttler (51) and Liam Livingstone (30) made important contributions before Brook’s jaw-dropping seven-ball cameo.
England have had a miserable white-ball tour of the Caribbean, winning one of five matches after a group-stage exit at the World Cup, but everything is all to play for with two games in Trinidad after they equalled their second-highest T20 chase of all-time, having overhauled 223 in 2020 in Centurion.
“It is a big boost and it shows our words have weight behind them,” said Salt.
“There is no sports team in the world that is happy with losing games but it is tough out here.
“We’ve been under the gun a little bit but the West Indies are a hell of a side. With the series in the balance, to come out and play the way we did, I am over the moon.”
Only spinners Adil Rashid and Moeen Ali and left-arm seamer Reece Topley, playing for the first time since a broken finger ended his World Cup early, went for less than 10 an over.
Pacemen Tymal Mills and Gus Atkinson leaked a combined 69 in four overs as the Windies accelerated at the death, led by Nicholas Pooran’s 82 off 45 balls plus Rovman Powell’s 39 off 21 and Jason Holder’s 18 off five.
“We knew what we needed to do (at the halfway point of the match) it was pretty simple,” added Salt, who said he was feeling his calf in the closing stages but that it was “nothing too sinister”.
“As we were going through the chase we were talking about how many we wanted to leave off the last five.
“We spoke in the middle about trying to leave 60 or 70. We felt that was something we could do. Maybe we left it a little bit too late, but you’ve seen on these surfaces that composure is everything.
“(Chasing a large total) certainly narrows the mind as to what you need to do. Sometimes it can be detrimental, but I think we managed it really well here.”