TEST: Old-fashion grind gives West Indies precious lead
SUMMARY: West Indies 272-6 (Brathwaite 49, Campbell 47, Hope 44, Bravo 33*, Dowrich 31, Hetmyer 21, Holder 19*, Broad 3-42, Ali 2-54) lead England 187 (Ali 60, Bairstow 52, Roach 4-30, Gabriel 3-45) by 85 runs
West Indies were rewarded for patient, intelligent and at times fortunate batting as they frustrated England’s bowlers and built a handy 85-run first-innings lead on day two of the second Test.
On paper, the home team’s failure to have anyone reach 50 would appear to support Jonny Bairstow’s contention on the opening day that the batsmen never “felt in” on an unpredictable pitch which saw England bowled out for 187. Where Bairstow scored 52 and Moeen Ali 60, West Indies’ top three of Kraigg Brathwaite, John Campbell and Shai Hope were out for 49, 47 and 44 respectively.
But the way the West Indies batsmen hung around, absorbing intense pressure from the pitch – which lacked the outright venom of the first day but still contained plenty of spice – and tight bowling from Stuart Broad, in particular, could prove the difference in an intriguing contest.
Darren Bravo batted for more than four hours and faced 165 balls for his unbeaten 33, while captain Jason Holder, a danger man after his unbeaten double-century in the first Test, joined him at stumps on 19 not out.
Like many of his team-mates, Bravo enjoyed a share of good fortune, much to the exasperation of England’s bowlers, who struggled to capitalise on the conditions in the manner their opponents had the day before. Bravo was dropped at slip by Jos Buttler off Broad shortly after tea and emerged relatively unscathed after being struck on the forearm by a Broad delivery that spat up off the pitch with a vengeance.
Brathwaite looked to be the pick of the batsmen, absorbing 156 deliveries during his stoic knock. He too enjoyed some good luck off Broad early in the day with a flick towards square leg, as substitute fielder Keaton Jennings narrowly missed taking what would have been a screamer running forward had the ball not dropped just in front of him.
Broad endured a particularly luckless first session in which his probing deliveries, inexplicably at times, failed to entice an edge and Buttler put down another chance, off Campbell. A short time later, Campbell skied Broad high towards square leg but Moeen, on the fence, was too far away, and Bairstow dived for the catch in vain after a good chase from behind the stumps.
It was Ben Stokes who finally dismissed Campbell, who had repeatedly flirted with danger – especially off a nonplussed Broad. His luck ran out when he sent an edge to second slip, Buttler holding on this time.
One of Broad’s tempting legcutters finally found the bat when he had Hope caught behind by Bairstow, standing in for wicketkeeper Ben Foakes, who is expected to bat in England’s second innings – X-rays cleared him of any fracture after he was struck by a vicious Shannon Gabriel delivery while batting on day one.
Broad’s second wicket was even more satisfying for the fast bowler, back in the side after being overlooked for England’s mammoth defeat in Barbados. His absolute gem of a ball gave Roston Chase no chance as it whizzed through low to uproot off stump, leaving the batsman in a crumpled heap on all fours.
All Broad’s hard work paid off again when he had Shane Dowrich – who scored an unbeaten century in Barbados – caught by Buttler off a stunning ball which kicked up off a length and struck the batsman on the thumb.
Broad’s strike bowling partner, James Anderson, also battled hard and his visible annoyance was compounded when he appeared to have the dangerous Shimron Hetmyer out to a brilliant catch, but Rory Burns grassed the chance diving forward at extra cover. The only upside for Anderson came when he took an excellent catch himself in the deep off Moeen to dismiss Hetmyer for 21 a short time later, kicking the ball away in furious celebration.
Broad ended a hard-fought day with 3 for 42 off 28 overs, but West Indies were grinding their way to an invaluable advantage with the series on the line. (ESPNCricinfo)