West Indies just 170 runs behind, England under pressure despite Crawley defiance

By Sports Desk July 11, 2020

England suffered a late collapse in Southampton to close day four on 284-8 – giving them a lead of 170 over West Indies – to leave the first Test delicately poised. 

Having erased a first-innings deficit of 114, the hosts appeared to be gaining the upper hand as they reached 249-3, Zak Crawley combining with stand-in captain Ben Stokes to put on a partnership of 98 for the fourth wicket.

The pair built on the good work done by openers Dom Sibley (50) and Rory Burns (42) but West Indies fought back impressively in the final session, Shannon Gabriel and Alzarri Joseph each taking two of the five wickets to go down.

Stokes (46), however, fell for a second time in the match to opposite number Jason Holder when seemingly going well, steering the West Indies skipper to one of two catchers positioned in the gully region.

As for Crawley, the right-hander's impressive innings came to an end on 76 when he chipped a return catch back to Joseph, who then followed up by bowling Jos Buttler for nine.

Gabriel produced a fine spell in fading light to bowl both Dom Bess and Ollie Pope, the latter via an inside edge, and though England avoided being dismissed prior to stumps, they had undoubtedly let slip a glorious opportunity after battling so hard to forge their way in front.

Burns and Sibley continued on from the overnight total of 15 without loss in the early stages of Saturday's play, pushing their opening stand on to 72.

Spinner Roston Chase finally claimed the initial breakthrough for West Indies, aided by Burns hitting a long hop to point, while he also tempted Joe Denly to chip a simple catch to mid-wicket. Having reached 29, England's number three once again failed to capitalise on a promising start. 

Sibley did carry on to register his first half-century on home soil in Tests, though departed soon after reaching the landmark. 

Reprieved when bowled off a no ball earlier in the same over, he was caught down leg by wicketkeeper Shane Dowrich off the bowling of Gabriel, whose closing burst saw him finish with figures of 3-62.


WINDIES ON TOP BUT WORK STILL TO DO

West Indies will be pleased by the way they hit back with the ball after tea, though a wearing Rose Bowl pitch showing signs of uneven bounce means a fourth-innings chase is by no means straightforward. Still, considering how well England were going with Crawley and Stokes together, the tourists should now be considered favourites.
 

ROOT'S RETURN CREATES SELECTION ISSUE

With Joe Root set to come back into the XI for the second Test, one of England's batting line-up will have to make way for the returning skipper. It seems a straight fight between Denly and Crawley, with the latter surely now ahead on points after making his highest score in the format.


MOMENT OF THE DAY – GABRIEL GETS HIS MAN... AGAIN

Sibley appeared to have perished straight after reaching 50, bowled off an inside edge. A tight no-ball call initially offered him a second chance, yet the opening batsman failed to capitalise, lasting only two further deliveries before he was dismissed by the same bowler. 

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    Major teams: Pakistan, Antigua Hawksbills, Dhaka Gladiators, Faisalabad, Faisalabad Wolves, Islamabad Cricket Association, Islamabad United, Khan Research Labs, Water and Power Development Authority, Worcestershire, Zarai Taraqiati Bank Limited

    Playing role: Bowler

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    Jofra Archer pointed out he is not a robot after the England fast bowler's pace levels were again called into question on day two of the first Test against Pakistan.

    The hosts reached stumps on 92-4 at Old Trafford, with Ollie Pope's unbeaten 46 the clearest note of defiance against a superb opening burst from Pakistan's seamers – Mohammad Abbas the pick with 2-24 after bowling Ben Stokes for a duck.

    A career-best 156 from Shan Masood did most of the heavy lifting in the tourists' 326 all out, in which Archer and Stuart Broad took three wickets apiece.

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    "If you looked at the time, it was approaching the [second] new ball and I think he just wanted all of the bowlers fresh," an unperturbed Archer observed.

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    Pakistan's sparkling and lethal bowling attack left England reeling at the end of day two after Shan Masood's excellent century put the tourists in charge of the first Test.

    Star batsman Babar Azam was removed by James Anderson without adding to his overnight 69 as England checked Pakistan's day-one momentum with impressive discipline during the morning session.

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    Captain Joe Root's 58-ball stay yielded 14 runs before he was out caught behind, cutting leg-spinner Yasir Shah, meaning the bulk of England's hopes rested with Ollie Pope (46 not out) as they closed on 92-4 – 234 in arrears.

    After an underwhelming Wednesday outing on his home ground, Anderson (1-63) was bang on the money in the first over of the day and tempted Babar into a drive he edged to Root at first slip.

    Broad (3-54) accounted for Asad Shafiq in similar fashion, with Stokes the catcher, and the similarly assured Chris Woakes (2-43) had Mohammad Rizwan caught behind by Jos Buttler, who endured an otherwise torrid innings with the gloves.

    England had a sniff of Pakistan's vulnerable lower order but Shadab put on 105 for the sixth wicket with Shan, who reached a fourth Test century, and third in as many outings, off 251 deliveries.

    Shadab slapped Dom Bess to Root at midwicket with 50 in sight, which was Shan's cue to put his foot down as Jofra Archer (3-59) and Broad split the tail between them – the latter having implored in inimitable fashion for the centurion's scalp.

    Shaheen's pace and Abbas' wily precision got Pakistan quickly stuck into the England middle order, with Stokes losing his stumps when driving at a majestic delivery that decked away from him.

    Pope found a fluency that eluded his captain, meeting the challenge of considerable speed and skill with a nicely judged counter-attack he must now build substantially upon.

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