West Indies tighten grip on first Test

By Sports Desk July 10, 2020

West Indies racked up a 114-run first innings lead against England to take control of the first Test at the Rose Bowl on day three.

Kraigg Brathwaite (65) and Shane Dowrich (61) led the way for the tourists, who benefitted from valuable contributions all the way down the order as they reached 318 all out on Friday.

That was in stark contrast to England's efforts as they were skittled for 204, although openers Rory Burns and Dom Sibley dug in to negotiate a tricky evening stint and reach stumps at 15-0.

Having made the most of bowling at England under leaden skies on Thursday, West Indies capitalised on the clouds parting to steadily compile a position of strength.

Denied helpful overhead conditions, the home attack were confronted by a fairly benign surface – one that meant Jofra Archer being denied an lbw verdict against Shai Hope due to overstepping was an error they could ill afford.

That moment in itself did not prove too costly as Hope was caught at slip by Ben Stokes for 16 after swiping at Dom Bess, the off-spinner who bowled tidily and also dismissed Jermaine Blackwood to claim 2-51.

But Archer would end the innings wicketless, with stand-in skipper Stokes (4-49) and James Anderson (3-62) sharing seven scalps.

Brathwaite could not turn his half-century into something more substantial, as he shuffled across to be trapped in front by Stokes, while Shamarh Brooks drove delightfully before edging Anderson behind to Jos Buttler for 39.

Roston Chase took on the anchor role – in stark contrast to Blackwood's devil-may-care efforts – and was trapped on the crease by Anderson when three shy of a richly deserved fifty.

Stokes removed opposite number Jason Holder cheaply and bowled Alzarri Joseph for a breezy 18, with Shannon Gabriel falling in similar fashion to Mark Wood.

Dowrich, who punished the England pacemen whenever they erred in line or length, was the penultimate man to fall, edging Stokes through to Buttler.

Gabriel, Holder and Kemar Roach found Burns and Sibley to be in resilient mood, although England will hope their hard yards have just begun.

 

PERSISTENCE PAYS OFF FOR BRATHWAITE

Brathwaite had not passed 50 in 21 Test innings heading into the series opener, meaning the prospect of skilled seam attack in English conditions with a Dukes ball might have filled him with dread. If it did, it certainly did not show, as he masterfully laid a platform. The 27-year-old slightly opening his stance, allowing him to access the on-side and confidently play the in-swinger, looks a shrewd adjustment.

TOIL AND LITTLE REWARD FOR ENGLAND QUICKS

Historically, this rivalry has been dominated by West Indies pacemen, so there was obvious excitement around England fielding two men capable of frequently hitting 90 miles per hour and beyond. However, Wood and Archer turned in combined figures of 1-135. The pair will surely fire in tandem at Test level soon – maybe even in the second innings here – but their struggles jarred as a brooding Stuart Broad watched on from the sidelines.

MOMENT OF THE DAY – ANDERSON HANGS ON TO REMOVE CAVALIER BLACKWOOD

West Indies day was a tale of patience and steady accumulation, very much classic Test cricket. The match situation encouraged Blackwood to try and take the action away from England, but his approach sat in hilarious contrast to his more measured team-mates. It felt like the 28-year-old played several expansive attacking shots for each of the 12 runs he ended up scoring, although Anderson's grab at mid-off to end a bizarre and entertaining interlude was as sharp as they come.

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