A little-known Johnson Charles scored his maiden half-century while Chris Gayle made an aggressive fifty to help West Indies beat defending champions England by 15 runs in a Super Eights match of the ICC World Twenty20 in Pallekele on Thursday.
Charles scored a belligerent 84 off just 56 balls with help of 10 well-timed fours and three sixes, while Gayle belted six fours and four sixes en route to a 35-ball 58 to lay the platform for West Indies' total.
Chasing 180 for win, England stuttered at the start before Alex Hales and Eoin Morgan came together and stitched 107 runs for the fifth wicket in mere 58 balls to almost snatch a win from the jaws of defeat. But it was not to be as eventually the asking proved to to be too tall for Hales and Morgan, whose efforts went in vain as England finished at 164 for four.
Morgan was the star for England with the bat, scoring an unbeaten 71 runs off just 36 balls with the help of four boundaries and five huge sixes. Hales played the role of a shit-anchor and made well-deserved 68 off 51 balls.
England's chase got off to a disastrous start as they lost their first two wickets without a run on the board. Ravi Rampaul (2-37) inflicted the major damage to England, dismissing Craig Kieswetter and Luke Wright in consecutive balls.
Rampaul first dismissed Kieswetter, who looped the second delivery of the innings to Kieron Pollard at point. And then Wright gave a simple catch to Gayle at slips in the next ball to stand in with a chance of registering the first hat-trick of the tournament, which eventually eluded the pacer.
Hales and Jonny Bairstow (18) did the initial resurrection for England with a 55-run fourth-wicket stand before Pollard's brilliance in the long-on boundary cut short the partnership.
A running Pollard pulled off a blinder off Gayle's bowling to sent Bairstow packing. But, therafeter, Hales and Morgan took the task to the opposition and gave West Indies a late scare, hitting boundaries and sixes at will to bring England closer.
Needing 39 runs off the last 12 overs, Morgan clobbered Rampaul for two huge hits over fence to bring the equation down to 23 off Marlon Samuels' last over. But it was always a stiff task and England's hopes ultimately perished when Hales departed in the fourth ball, stumped by Dinesh Ramdin off Samuels.
Earlier, opting to bat in the second Group 1 game of the Super Eights, Charles and Gayle produced a 103-run opening partnership to propel West Indies to the competitive total.
Skipper Stuart Broad was the pick of the English bowlers with figures of two for 26.
Gayle turned the heat on the English bowlers in the second over when he hit Jade Dernbach for three fours. Charles, on the other hand, was slow to get off the blocks and wasted too many deliveries in the six overs of powerplay to put additional pressure on Gayle.
But it hardly had any affect on Gayle as the big-hitting left-hander welcomed left-arm spinner Samit Patel with three huge sixes to pick up 19 runs of the eight over.
Gayle's pyrotechnics seemed to have inspired Johnson, who made up for his slow start by spanking Graeme Swann for two sixes and a four to notch up 18 runs of the next over.
In the process, Gayle also notched up his ninth T20 half century off just 29 balls.
In the 11th over of West Indies innings both the team's witnessed mixed fortunes, but in the end it was England who had the last laugh.
The drama started with Gayle hitting Swann for another of his huge sixes and then Steven Finn added salt to the bowler's wound when he dropped Charles in the fifth ball. But Finn made amends for his drop a ball later by holding on to dangerous-looking Gayle's catch.
Charles, however, continued his fine display and smashed two more fours, this time of Luke Wright's bowling, to score his fifty off just 36 balls.
Samuels (2), Pollard (1) and captain Darren Sammy didn't trouble the scorers much.
In search of quick runs, Charles finally fell in the 18th over, caught by Jonny Bairstow off Dernbach.
Dwayne Bravo (11 not out) and Andre Russell (10 not out) made full use of the few deliveries they got and picked up 15 runs of the final over of the innings, courtesy three hits to the fence off Dernbach.
Photo: West Indies' Chris Gayle dances after dismissing England's Jonny Bairstow during the Twenty20 World Cup Super 8 cricket match at Pallekele on Thursday (REUTERS/Philip Brown)