Root, Lawrence power England to 244-3 at Kensington Oval
SUMMARY: England 244-3 from 89.5 overs (Joe Root 119*, Dan Lawrence 91, Alex Lees 30; Jayden Seales 1-30, Jason Holder 1-54, Veerasammy Permaul 1-61)
Report and Photography by Akeem Greene in Barbados
Another Joe Root masterclass, backed up by Dan Lawrence, drove England into the ascendency on day one of the second Apex Test, as West Indies were made to toil on a placid deck at the Kensington Oval in Bridgetown, Barbados.
Root ended the day unbeaten on 119, his 25th Test ton and second consecutive of the series. His sixth Test ton against the West Indies and fifth in the Caribbean was a typical innings of grit and close shaves at the start then a fluent flow like poetry.
The much-hyped Lawrence had a hundred for the taking until he was undone by Jason Holder off the penultimate delivery of the day. He just struck Holder for two sweetly-timed fours when he was pouched at cover for 91 after striking 13 fours and one six.
Lawrence had a ‘life’ on 72 as Alzarri Joseph, at first slip, shelled a thick outside edge at chest height; another ‘day of drops’ for West Indies.
The day started a bit similar to day one in Antigua, as Zak Crawley, fresh off 121 in the second innings of that game, made duck, after an indecisive dabble outside his off-stump produced a faint edge to Joshua DaSilva off the lively Jayden Seales in the fourth over.
Guyanese umpire Nigel Duguid got his first call in a Test correctly after Seales trapped Root on the crease, but the decision stood as the review showed it was bouncing over the stumps.
Wicketless in the first Test, left-arm spinner Veerasammy Permaul was introduced in the 13th over. At that point, there was still no Jason Holder with the ball in hand.
Root, after some close chances backed up by exquisite drives, immediately pulled out the sweep to nullify Permaul, whose early introduction could be linked to the eighth-placed West Indies being docked two points from their World Test Championship tally for a slow over-rate in the first Test.
The cloud-snagging Holder eventually came into the attack in the 20th over and immediately got Root into trouble via an inside-edge to DaSilva which they did not review.
Joseph had a pacey and aggressive second spell but England was very intent on reaching the interval with no more losses, and they did, at 47-1.
‘ROO ROO’ ROOT
Four overs after lunch, Kemar Roach sunk to his knees as DaSilva floored a leg-side chance with Root just on 34. It didn’t stop him, as the English skipper grew in confidence; any of his cheeky late cuts or cover drives had the Barney Army cheering “Roo Roo Root”.
It was really an ‘away match’ for West Indies with regards to the massive support for England. Spotting West Indian supporters was like finding a needle in a haystack.
After 109 in Antigua, Root reached fifty from 125 balls and the emotions went from high to low as Permaul trapped Lees in front the next ball.
Just in his second Test, Lees went back and played around a straight ball from Permaul, to walk back for 30 from 130 balls. It ended a stabilising stand for the second wicket of 76 from 251 balls.
The shackles slowly broke as Root and Dan Lawrence played with much greater freedom and found the ropes on a consistent basis as they added 56 from 84 balls by tea – a much-improved session for runs scoring.
The pair’s aggression meant West Indies opted to employ the short-ball tactic, but both men shifted inside of the line on most occasions and still got value for their shots.
In fact, it was a pull that brought Root the single needed to reach his century and produce the jumping fist-pump celebration.
Lawrence got to his fourth and quickest half-century off 62 balls and his urgency along with Root’s stability created the slumped West Indian shoulders – they added 164 from 271 balls.
West Indies surprisingly opted not to take the second new ball and would desperately need early breakthroughs on a pitch which looked flatter by the hour.