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Moeen Ali produced one of the most breathtaking batting assaults

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Moeen Ali produced one of the most breathtaking batting assaults in international history, a 53-ball hundred that included an incredible eight sixes in the space of 14 balls, as England withstood a withering riposte from the mighty Chris Gayle to seal an unassailable 2-0 series lead in the third ODI at Bristol. The final margin of victory, 124 runs, may have been comfortable for England in the end, but it required a performance of rare brilliance from Moeen to put his team's total beyond the range of a spirited West Indies side, who rallied with impressive resolve from a humiliating final six overs in which their seamers were panned for 93 runs. Set a daunting 370 to win, having at one stage had England wobbling on 217 for 6, West Indies stayed in the hunt until Gayle's dismissal for 94 from 78 balls in the 27th over. At 176 for 4, it was an insurmountable loss, especially after Marlon Samuels had been sent on his way for 11 via a contentious DRS overturn, although Jason Holder cracked a brisk 34 from 26 balls to maintain the defiance into the 40th over. It was left to Adil Rashid - the man whose dead-eyed shy from midwicket had sawn Gayle's innings off in its prime - and a maiden five-wicket haul from Liam Plunkett to snuff out the last of West Indies' resistance. For much of the contest, a packed Bristol crowd might have assumed that a 132-run stand for the fourth wicket between England's two biggest names, Joe Root and Ben Stokes, would be enough of a treat to mark their day out. But Moeen had other ideas. The sheer audacity of his hitting is best expressed in the purity of his final 14 balls - 6, 6, 2, 4, 6, 6, 6, 6, 2, 4, 1, 6, 0, 6 - with which he transformed a meandering run-a-ball 39 into the fastest ODI hundred ever made on English soil. As the blows rained down, West Indies' resolve went to pot - and it had been pretty resolute up to that point, with England forced twice to battle back from uncompromising scorelines - first when Root and Stokes rescued them from 74 for 3, and then when Moeen and Chris Woakes came together at an awkward 217 for 6 in the 35th over. But the ferocity of the dead-eyed Moeen ripped the contest from their clutches. His onslaught was triggered by the return to the attack of Miguel Cummins, who up to that point had been West Indies' outstanding bowler with a haul of three prime wickets - namely Root, Alex Hales and the off-colour Jos Buttler. But Moeen cleared his front foot from the very first ball he received, battering him for back-to-back sixes to bring up his fifty from 41 balls. And that was just the start. Another six from the final ball of Cummins' over segued into three more in a row off Holder, as West Indies conceded a grim 50 runs in two overs. Jerome Taylor might have ended the fun thereafter but Gayle dropped a slashed cut at point with Moeen on 87, whereupon the hapless Cummins was slammed into the stands twice more in three balls to bring up a stunning century. The final moments of Moeen's innings had a touch of comedy about them as he was dropped twice in two balls by Ashley Nurse, the second an absolute howler off a top-edged slog, before picking out Holder one ball later. Poor Nurse had already clung onto a blinder two overs earlier, as he intercepted a scudding slog from Woakes to long-on, only to fling the ball over the boundary for six as his momentum took him over the rope. It was all a far cry from the tentative beginnings to England's innings. After being asked to bat first on an unnerving greeny-brown surface that Eoin Morgan hoped would "play better than it looks" (not half…), England's openers struggled initially for timing. When Jonny Bairstow popped a leading edge back to Holder to fall for 13 - his lowest completed ODI innings in his last eight visits to the crease - England were 28 for 1 after six overs, and braced for an attritional afternoon. Hales, widely touted for an Ashes call-up, showed flashes of his form in making 36 from 35 balls before being pinned lbw by Cummins, whereupon Morgan, bereft of runs in the course of his nomadic T20-led late-season, was done in first ball by Holder, a perfect lifter on off stump that kissed the edge of a tentative bat through to Shai Hope. At 74 for 3, the innings was in the balance, but Stokes and Root were unruffled as they set about laying the groundwork for what would prove a monstrously successful rebuild. After milking the spinners throughout the middle orders, Root signalled a change-up in tempo with an emphatic slog-sweep for six over midwicket off Nurse, and Stokes was all too willing to take up the challenge, crashing Nurse for consecutive sixes down the ground to threaten carnage. However, Rovman Powell, sticking to his guns in a restrictive spell of seam-up, tempted Stokes into a rash swipe to deep point for 73, and when Cummins produced a snorter to tickle the off bail of Buttler, he followed up by luring Root into a loose waft across the line. It could have been a decisive intervention. Instead, it merely unleashed the fury of Mo. And that could well have been that, so far as a contest was concerned. West Indies, however, have found a rare means of battling back in adversity on this tour - from their response to humiliation at Edgbaston in the Test series, to their victory in the Durham T20 after the Lord's defeat, and now with the return of the Universe Boss from last week's hamstring strain. With nine fours and six sixes in his 94 from 78 balls, including three in a row off Moeen to rebalance his overall match figures, Gayle's presence alone kept the contest bubbling going into the final half of the innings. But then, a familiar shortcoming sold him short. With England forever on the alert for his increasingly fallible running between the wickets, Rashid at midwicket pinged down the non-striker's stumps, and West Indies' top gun was gone by a matter of millimetres. By then, the deck-hitting excellence of Plunkett - another man, maybe, with distant Ashes aspirations - had cranked open the top of West Indies' batting order. In particular his early extractions of Hope and Samuels - albeit contentiously - were reward for the time-honoured virtue of pace and bounce outside off stump. And fittingly, it was Plunkett who wrapped up the contest with 65 balls remaining, as Holder holed out to long-off. ESPNCRICINFO

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