Windies pair look to dig in after Mahmood, Leach strikes have tourists’ tails up
Tea West Indies 411 and 65 for 3 (Brathwaite 32*, Blackwood 14*) need 217 runs vs England 507 for 9 dec and 185 for 6 dec (Lawrence 41, Crawley 40, Bairstow 29)
Three wickets in the middle session gave England hope as they sought a second-Test victory on the final day that had seemed a remote possibility the night before.
But after Saqib Mahmood and Jack Leach combined to reduce West Indies to 39 for 3 inside the first 13 overs of the hosts’ second innings, Kraigg Brathwaite and Jermaine Blackwood were reunited in the middle, having already combined for a 183-run fourth-wicket stand in their first.
By tea, Brathwaite was unbeaten on 32 and Blackwood was not out 14, with West Indies 65 for 3, interestingly mirroring the home side’s score at the same stage of the drawn first Test in Antigua. On this occasion, Brathwaite and Blackwood had already chewed up 108 balls for their unbroken stand of 26, leaving England 35 scheduled overs in which to take the remaining seven wickets required for victory.
Leach entered the attack in the sixth over and struck with the sixth ball when he had John Campbell caught by Alex Lees at short leg, although it took an England review to overturn umpire Joel Wilson’s not-out decision, with replays showing the ball had kissed Campbell’s glove before hitting the pad.
Similarly, Mahmood got in on the action with the last ball of his opening over, thanks to a juggled slips catch off Shamarh Brooks, the ball bobbing up towards second slip, where Zak Crawley couldn’t hold on as he went to ground and parried it into the air for Joe Root, running behind him from first slip to collect it in his fingertips.
Mahmood then had first-match centurion Nkrumah Brooks out via a much more straightforward catch to Root at slip to leave West Indies looking rattled and England jubilant.
Earlier, England had set West Indies 282 to win in a minimum of 65 overs, after declaring during lunch on 185 for 6 in their second innings.
Partnerships worth 51 runs each for the first and fifth wickets built their lead, with Crawley and Dan Lawrence reaching the 40s. Some enterprising yet unselfish batting interspersed by a couple of rain interruptions gave way to England biding their time before another squall arrived to bring lunch forward by a matter of minutes.
Having resumed 136 runs ahead on 40 for 0, the tourists lost three wickets inside the first half hour or so before the first, brief, rain stoppage.
In their attempts to raise the tempo, Lees and Root came undone as both fell slog-sweeping Veerasammy Permaul, Lees picking out Alzarri Joseph and Root failing to connect fully and sending a top edge to John Campbell at deep midwicket.
Joseph chimed in with the wicket of Crawley, beautifully caught by Jayden Seales, who ran in from long leg and dived forward to pouch the chance in mid-air.
When the players left the field for about 10 minutes as a shower swept through, England were 76 for 3, leading by 172 and with hopes of Lawrence and Ben Stokes piling on some quick runs at the resumption.
They did just that, with Stokes crashing a four through extra cover and lofting the next ball over deep midwicket for six in one Kemar Roach over which went for 17 runs in all. In the next, Lawrence thumped Joseph in the same direction for a maximum before a second shower arrived, this time halting play for around 40 minutes.
Stokes fell shortly after the re-start while Roach and Joseph looked to keep a lid on things by targeting a yorker length. But Lawrence and Jonny Bairstow picked their moments, the latter bludgeoning consecutive sixes off Joseph over deep backward square and down the ground.
As England’s lead neared the 250-mark, Lawrence took it beyond when Seales came into the attack and saw his first ball smashed into the stands at long-on. Bairstow brought up their fifty stand with a single and departed moments later, having added 29 runs from just 25 balls when he sent Seales’ fifth ball of the day to Roach, running in from long-off and stooping low to take the catch.
Lawrence leapt in the air and almost lost his balance trying to heave Seales to the on side but he succeeded only in finding the safe hands of Joseph at long-on to end with 41 runs from 39 balls.
Valkerie Baynes is a general editor at ESPNcricinfo