Shah delighted to make mark at last

Published: Saturday, June 30, 2007, 23:53 [IST]
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London:Owais Shah hopes the unbeaten 55 with which he helped England to victory in the second Twenty20 international against West Indies at the The Oval can be the start of greater things.

The 28-year-old Middlesex batsman had played two Tests and 18 one-day internationals before Friday's Twenty20 game without really making his mark.

But he hit 55 from 35 balls at the home of Middlesex's arch London rivals Surrey, in an unbroken sixth-wicket partnership of 69 to as England ended the series all square at 1-1.

"I've been wanting to play a meaningful innings for England for a while," Shah said. "I'm pleased to have been given my opportunity.

"I'm just going to take each game as it comes and try to keep doing well for England. If that leads to me cementing my place, that's perfect."

A three-match 50-over one-day series against West Indies begins at Lord's on Sunday, and Shah is surely a certain pick at his Middlesex home ground.

"You have to wait and try to grab whatever opportunity you get given," he said. "Sometimes it's difficult if you just get a game here and there.

"It would be brilliant to get a run of games, but sometimes things just don't work out in your favour. I got an opportunity here, and if I get an opportunity in the 50-over series then I've got to take it."

Both captains were impressed with Shah's performance. "You have to give him credit," said West Indies skipper Chris Gayle. "He showed composure taking it on for the England team."

"A knock like that shows he has finishing quality," Paul Collingwood added. "He picked and chose his shots well under pressure in difficult conditions."

West Indies are set to field a changed side at the weekend.

Batsmen Shivnarine Chanderpaul, who had a knee injury, and Devon Smith, who had a thigh strain, both should return for the game at Lord's on Sunday, while all-rounder Dwayne Bravo should be fit to play a full part with the ball.

Fast bowler Fidel Edwards, omitted for the Twenty20 games, is also likely to return. "With his pace, he's one of our key players," Gayle said.

That means no place for Lendl Simmons and Austin Richards, neither of whom were particularly impressive on their international Twenty20 debuts, scoring just 19 runs between them.

"Those two guys got their opportunity, and they deserve a chance," said Gayle. It was an opportunity to grab, and it didn't happen, but it's a learning process and they are the future of West Indies cricket.

"They're very capable of getting the job done."

Collingwood also spoke of a learning process, although he was talking about his own captaincy and the importance of not letting team issues influence his own game.

"That's going to be a skill," he said. "Twenty20 can be mayhem. It was something I learned yesterday (Thursday) when I came on to bowl and my head was all over the place," said Collingwood as he reflected on his first outing as England's limited overs captain following Test skipper Michael Vaughan's decision to give up the job.

Collingwood conceded 17 runs from one over then, but on Friday went for 21 off two, picking up the key wickets of Gayle and Marlon Samuels as England restricted West Indies to 169 for seven.

"I was a lot more focused," he said. "It's all about preparation."


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