Andrew Strauss always had faith in his never-say-die England team to cling on to a World Cup lifeline against the West Indies.
There seemed no way back for England during Andre Russell and Ramnaresh Sarwan’s seventh-wicket stand of 72 as the West Indies closed on a vulnerable 243 all out under lights at the MA Chidambaram Stadium.
Defeat would have signalled yet another early exit for England from a competition they have never won in 36 years of trying.
But James Tredwell (4-48) and Graeme Swann (3-36) had other ideas as the West Indies’ last four wickets fell for three runs and England got home after all by 18.
Even Jonathan Trott’s misfortune, narrowly clipping the boundary cover with the brim of his sunhat as he fell taking an outfield catch and therefore conceding another six to Russell on 39, did not demoralise Strauss’ England.
“I still thought there was another twist in the tale,” said the captain.
“After Trott’s ‘catch’, it was easy for heads to possibly drop at that stage.
“But the guys were remarkably buoyant all the way through. I think we really felt that something was going to happen – and thankfully, it did.”
England have made a habit of close-run matches over the past two weeks but have prevailed in three and are therefore highly likely to progress to the quarter-finals as long as other Group B matches do not go conspicuously against them this weekend.
“It’s been a tough few days, trying to get myself and the rest of the lads up after the Bangladesh defeat (last Friday) – which hurt us pretty hard – then falling ill myself and having to make some tough calls selection-wise,” said Strauss.
“But I was buoyed by the thought we had one more opportunity to show what we could actually do in this World Cup.
“None of us wanted to go home tomorrow morning, and we were very motivated to not let that happen.”
“Clearly we were desperate to win and weren’t going to leave anything behind.
“But we needed guys to take early wickets – Tredders did an outstanding job, getting (Chris) Gayle out in particular.
“But more than anything, I think it was the togetherness that got us through.
“I wish it wasn’t as close as it was, but we’re delighted to have won the game.”
lEngland are today expected to confirm their request to the International Cricket Council for a replacement player, after a recurrence of Yorkshire bowler Ajmal Shahzad’s hamstring injury meant he must fly home from the World Cup, joining Kevin Pietersen and Stuart Broad on the sidelines.