Two days and the third test is already geared towards a second-inning shootout. After beating England for 204 on day one, West Indies responded on day two with a first effort riddled with the same misjudgements but, crucially, continuing on 232 for eight.
The value of a 28-point lead is underscored by the fact that the top seven hitters are averaging 12 so far. And with Joshua Da Silva on 54 not out, it’s possible to squeeze a few more runs and keep going. England’s frustrations.
After the bowlers occupying the last four places at bat provided 129 of England’s first innings, they went into the primary combinations on Friday to avenge the damage the West Indies had caused to their first order. The hosts were in contention at 95 for six, then 128 for seven, with chris woake taking three wickets to gut the middle order. But just like it was day one, an older ball and tired legs, after back-to-back testing, allowed for some tail racing.
It was Da Silva, Alzarri Joseph (28) and Kemar Roach (25*) who provided the most valuable of all. Da Silva was the main operator in both partnerships: adding 49 for the eighth wicket and 55 and counting for the ninth. Much like the 90 runs and 218 balls – Jack Leach (41 not out) and Saqib Mahmood (49) – those contributions were vital to the cause. Da Silva, with a fourth half, has been the best of the show so far, parking his bravado at the gate on the middle path and not overshooting on a bridge that can be tamed with the older ball. His 50 came out of 143 and contained only four limits.
Fly-half Kraigg Brathwaite and John Campbell got off to a good start, raising 50 with ease, especially as the latter made hay as England played too wide and too short, allowing the southpaw to free his arm, Like he usually does. Just when thoughts were turning to disparage a pitch that had flattened after Thursday’s England batting procession, Ben Stokes found a variable rebounding area to pass a shin-high one past Brathwaite.
The West Indies skipper walked, no need to argue with Campbell about a review that would have shown only a planned path in the middle of the center stump. Stokes followed him shortly after, for the second time in 17 overs to attend to his left knee. But he had shown the other rapids the value of pitching straighter and letting the surface do what it wanted.
The next day, Campbell wore one in the grille at Overton, then in the back of the helmet on the next delivery he had to face from seamer Somerset, before Shamarh Brooks took one in the ribs. All thanks to distrust of what was in front of them and a more focused line of attack.
Then came the meltdown: Mahmood trapping Brooks LBW with a mid-high leg stump kick, and Overton getting Campbell (35) out for good with a glove to the side of the leg during the review.
Lunch came as an end-of-inning bell, allowing West Indies to regroup on 71 for three after finishing the morning on the ropes. Nkrumah Bonner and Jermaine Blackwood appeared wary in the afternoon, firing all their shots in an attempt to wait out the flurry. It did not work.
Bonner was the first defeated by a Woakes bouncer, moving his head but not his hands, passing to Ben Foakes. Later in the same game, Jason Holder inexplicably hooked a similar delivery from the splice for a simple catch to Jonny Bairstow coming from deep in the side of the leg.
Woakes the Executor? Who would have thought. The third came in a more familiar fashion, pinching the right-handed Blackwood for an LBW which DRS said only cut the upper leg stump, thus confirmed by the decision on the ground. A double positive after Foakes dropped Blackwood five deliveries earlier after the batter thinned a Mahmood toe edge as he tried to leave.
Kyle Mayers came ready to hit a few shots from his side, taking some shine away from Woakes’ figures with a guided four through the ravine then a square leg pullover for six that took the West Indies to 106 for six and reduced their double-digit arrears, out of 98.
Mayers continued to try to set the tempo, often to the nuisance of Da Silva, who nearly missed one when he answered a late call from the other side. But they overcame the misunderstanding as Da Silva held on while Mayers played his shots.
The all-rounder hit a hearty 28 before putting his opponent Stokes in the hands of Mahmood in the middle. It was an intervention that brought England out of their momentary lull as the movement of fast bowlers calmed down enough for the introduction of Jack Leach in 43rd place.
Joseph took it upon himself to carry the fire from Mayers, ready to engage England’s rapids with both expansive shots and bravado as the sights and sounds turned his way. He gave as well as he got, snagging Woakes for six as 150 appeared and was quickly passed, even going down regularly at the wicket, often to defend. In the end, the manner of his dismissal – taking a few steps to the side of the leg and then passing an underside edge to Foakes – was unedifying and did not reflect the courage he had shown for his 59-ball stay that n was improved only by Da Silva. .
The wicketkeeper batter maintained his focus, cutting the deficit before Kemar Roach claimed glory with a slapped drive to the backspot boundary that put West Indies three ahead. But Da Silva received his applause from a now vocal crowd as he tossed the new ball through the midwicket for a fourth boundary to take it to 52.
Collective 50 made 89 deliveries but would have felt double given the time it arrived. When the bad light came to leave the last four overs of the day undefeated, England were as willing to leave and return tomorrow as the West Indies. The latter will be eager to come back more on Saturday.
West Indies edge ahead of England as Third Test heads to second leg shootout
Source link West Indies edge ahead of England as Third Test heads to second leg shootout