Mahmood, Leach rescue England after West Indies bowling dominance
Jack Leach and Saqib Mahmood were England’s unlikely saviours after the tourists’ top order collapsed on day one of the decisive third Test against West Indies.
On a lively pitch, England crumbled to 114-9 before Leach and Mahmood shared a crucial last-wicket partnership of 90 in Grenada.
Mahmood was bowled in the final over of the day for 49, his highest score in professional cricket, but not before he and Leach had dragged England to 204.
That represents an admirable recovery from England, who were facing being dismissed below 100 when they fell from 23-0 to 90-8 earlier in the day.
Captain Joe Root was caught behind for a duck in the morning session while three wickets fell for no runs in an abject spell after lunch – England unable to deal with the movement found by West Indies’ pace attack.
But as the ball softened and pitch flattened out, Leach, who finished 41 not out, stoutly stopped the procession of wickets before he and Mahmood added valuable runs, including one fine Mahmood six.
They ensured England’s bid to earn a first series win in the Caribbean since 2004, which would also halt their miserable run in Tests, was not all but over on the opening day.
Earlier, England were reduced for 46-3 by lunch as Kyle Mayers, included ahead of Veerasammy Permaul, made a double strike without conceding a run in his first five overs.
England lost wicket regularly thereafter, slipping to 67-7 and then 114-9.
Opener Alex Lees made 31 and Chris Woakes 25, before Leach and Mahmood came to spoil West Indies day.
Jayden Seales was West Indies most successful bowler on the day, claiming 3-40, while Mayers, Kemar Roach and Alzarri Joseph picked up two each.
The two sides are looking for victory that will give them a series win after the first two Tests in Antigua and Barbados ended in drawn results.
They are playing for the newly-minted Richard-Botham trophy.