A thrilling evening session has set up a fascinating final day at Old Trafford as the West Indies avoided the follow on on day four of the second test.
Broad blows Windies away with second new ball
After a rained out day three, England’s best chance of victory was if they bowled the West Indies out and were able to send them straight back in. But half centuries from Kraigg Braithwaite, Shamarh Brooks and Roston Chase saw the follow on avoided, and a slapdash last forty minutes as England attempted to bat their way into a winning position.
After a lacklustre first two sessions where the tourists ticked along comfortably, a Stuart Broad inspired new ball assault after tea dragged England back into the game. Brooks had batted beautifully for his 68 before Broad trapped him plumb in front- umpire Michael Gough didn’t hesitate and Brooks was walking before the celebrappeals were over.
In came the hero of the first test, Jermaine Blackwood, only to be sent back six balls later without scoring as a full ball from Broad kept low and smashed into off stump. In between those wickets Sam Curran thought he had dislodged Chase, trapping him in front, only for Chase to successfully overturn the decision as it pitched outside leg.
After Blackwood fell, Shane Dowrich arrived to face Broad and his pumping legs. It looked like being one of those spells from England’s second highest wicket taker, as he trapped the keeper-batsman in front for another duck. Dowrich reviewed but Hawkeye deemed the ball was smashing into the top of leg stump.
Woakes wraps up the innings as Windies avoid follow on
Then Chris Woakes joined the party, taking over from Ben Stokes. He dismissed captain Jason Holder in his first over of the spell- the all rounder fending a back of a length ball to Joe Root in the slips- then four overs later had Chase trapped LBW, given only after a review from Root.
By this point, all talk of a follow on was academic. Chase had done his bit, dragging the tourists past 270 with a glorious pull off Curran and soon after reaching 50, clipping the same bowler off his pads for two. That he was trapped LBW by Woakes a few balls later was almost irrelevant- he had done his job and the tourists had just kept England at arm’s length. For now.
Last man Shannon Gabriel survived four balls before being bowled by Woakes but by this point attention had turned to who England would open with. Would they stick with Rory Burns and Dom Sibley or would the middle order aggressors get a chance to tee off?
Tourists' resistance sets up thrilling final day
This wouldn’t have even been a question had the West Indies not batted as well as they did for much of the day. Just one wicket fell in the morning session, as Dom Bess- finding some nice turn- had nightwatchman Alzarri Joseph caught at short leg. Not long after, he sent a ripping delivery through the gate of Braithwaite, but it went just over the stumps and the opener survived. Other than that, England’s bowling proved ineffective and Braithwaite, alongside Shai Hope, ticked over nicely towards the lunch break.
Hope had made a start but once again couldn’t capitalise, on what might be his final chance at this level for now. The afternoon session had barely got going when Curran angled a slower ball across him- Hope caught behind, and hope for England. But Braithwaite, alongside Brooks, dug in and the hosts resorted to a short ball barrage in an attempt to break through. Just as it looked like it would yield no reward, a Stokes short ball from around the wicket was fended up tamely by Braithwaite on 75 for a simple return catch. Chase came to the crease and saw out the session alongside Brooks, with the game drifting towards a draw at tea.
England set out their stall with Stokes and Buttler
It was down to Broad and Woakes in the evening session to drag the game back within reach, and at the innings break England were left contemplating how best to approach their second innings. In the end it was Stokes and Jos Buttler who walked out to open- England’s in form batsman alongside their most aggressive. The intent was clear from the off but Buttler’s impact was negligible. He hadn’t got off the mark before playing on as he drove at a length ball from Kemar Roach, and what could have been a relatively simple task got a bit more complicated.
Stokes was joined by Zak Crawley and the two scampered singles- and a sliced four from the number three- before Roach bowled Crawley trying to heave down the ground. Captain Root was in next and the spirit of that partnership was continued. He and Stokes tucked, drove and ran hard for their singles and twos, adding 20 runs before stumps.
England lead by 219 and it is a complicated calculation Root must make overnight- how many more runs does he want, and how much time does he give his side to get them? He and Stokes can score quickly, and will back themselves to take England quickly towards the 270 or 280 lead they might feel comfortable declaring on. Whether that is enough time for ten more West Indies wickets remains to be seen.