There were scores of England fans at the MA Chidambaram Stadium on Thursday, with the national flag painted on their cheeks. Thousands of Indians were there too, rooting for a West Indian triumph. There was the odd Rasta man in the mix as well, sporting the cap coloured in yellow, red and black to go with the famous dreadlocks.
To the despair of a majority of the turnout emerged an unlikely hero called James Tredwell. The 29-year-old from Kent stood tall in a patchy performance by both teams to keep English hopes afloat. By doing so, the off-spinner kept equations in Group B open, with India, England, Bangladesh and the West Indies all in contention for the three quarter-final berths still up for grabs.
Going strictly by the quality of play, this game won't figure among the best in this World Cup. But embedded in the heart of some mediocre cricket were some dramatic twists and turns, which elevated the match almost to a thriller. If England looked like running away with it one moment, the West Indies hit back. And when they appeared to have sealed the deal, England showed they had the nerves and steel to have the last laugh.
Tredwell was one of the characters who turned this match into a captivating contest. The West Indies were beating the heat out of the English attack with Chris Gayle smashing everything to the ropes and beyond when the balding off-spinner struck. It took two more blows from Tredwell for the mounting run rate to subside and when the West Indies seemed to have clinched it, he was at it again.
Till that moment, another little known player Andre Russell was having the match of his life. After derailing a promising England start with his four-wicket burst, the Jamaican revived what looked like a hopeless chase with some bold hitting and the West Indies looked good to fulfill the collective wishes of India and Bangladesh with a courageous rescue act.
Net run rate
Tredwell dashed the hopes of the co-hosts by dismissing Russell before his senior partner Graeme Swann got into the act. What India will still keep an eye on is net run rate, because the narrow win didn't drastically improve England's. Unless they suffer a catastrophic defeat against the West Indies on Sunday, India will stay ahead of England on that vital count.
It was also a commendable debut by Devendra Bishoo. The leg-spinner from Guyana was spot on in terms of line and length and got the ball to spin too. It was due to his efforts that the West Indies choked England in the middle overs.
Tredwell's stunning show may or may not take England to the last eight, but full marks to him for keeping the race alive till the last match in this group.