LONDON (Reuters) - An unbeaten century from Jonny Bairstow helped England stroll to a seven-wicket victory over West Indies in the opening match of their one-day series at Old Trafford on Tuesday.
With England set a modest target of 205 in a match reduced to 42 overs per side because of a weather-delayed start, the outcome was never in doubt, and the main question was if Bairstow had time to reach three figures for the first time in ODIs having made three test centuries.
The 27-year-old Bairstow got there in the 31st over when he made three runs and a few balls later Ben Stokes sealed victory by launching Ashley Nurse over the boundary rope for six.
“It’s been a long time coming, I made by debut so long ago. It’s been a rollercoaster in ODIs, but hopefully it’s a stepping block for things to come,” Bairstow, who has struggled to nail down a place in England’s one-day side, said.
“I opened for Yorkshire at the start of the year and it’s gone from there. I like to hope my game lends itself to the middle order and to opening. Wherever the captain wants me to bat, I like to think that I’m adaptable.”
West Indies’ defeat means they will have to go through the qualifying progress for the 2019 World Cup.
They made a fast start to their innings with Chris Gayle, dropped by Joe Root in the first over, thumping three huge sixes as the visitors reached 45 without loss after five overs.
Gayle reached 34 after four overs but Root made amends when he sprinted full steam to catch him on the boundary for 37.
Shai Hope (35), Marlon Samuels (17) and Jason Mohammed (18) all made confident starts, but wickets fell at regular intervals with Stokes the main dangerman.
Hope was superbly caught one-handed by man-of-the-match Bairstow on the mid-wicket boundary off the bowling of Stokes, who finished with figures of three for 43.
After West Indies’ innings became bogged down Jason Holder’s 41 not out helped them past the 200-mark but it never looked like being enough to stop the hosts claiming victory.
England’s Alex Hales was caught off the bowling of Jerome Taylor for 19 but Root joined Bairstow for a second-wicket stand of 125 before Root was bowled by Kesrick Williams for 54.
Williams also removed captain Eoin Morgan for 10 but Stokes joined Bairstow as England cantered home under the lights.
The second match is at Trent Bridge on Thursday.
Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by John Stonestreet and Ken Ferris