England enjoyed another productive day in the opening match of their West Indies tour against St Kitts and Nevis on Monday even though the casualty list continued to mount.
Monty Panesar was the pick of the bowlers with four wickets, as England gained a first innings lead of 173, when they dismissed St Kitts and Nevis for 251 on the second day of three at Warner Park.
New captain Andrew Strauss then put the disappointment of a first innings first-ball duck behind him with an unbeaten 59, and Alastair Cook hit 50 not out, guiding England to 118 without loss at the close.
But England suffered another injury setback, when first innings century-maker Owais Shah was withdrawn from the match, after he awoke with blurred vision in his left eye from a scratched cornea.
Shah is the second player to be withdrawn from the match, following Andrew Flintoff, who was dispatched to Jamaica for a scan on a left-side strain sustained when bowling in the nets.
Shah is hoping for a speedy recovery, as he chases a place in the England Test line-up for the third time in his career.
“I don’t know how I did it,” he said. “The doctor didn’t know either. She said it could have been anything, maybe a tiny bit of sand went in, and I just rubbed my eye.”
“The doctor put some medicine in there, covered it up, and she reckons it should heal up overnight. Hopefully, it will be okay,” he said. “I walked out of the hotel room and my vision was a little bit blurred. When I spoke to the physiotherapist, I was concerned about my eyesight going, but he said, ‘You can’t lose your eyesight overnight.’”
But England hardly missed Shah when they batted a second time, as Strauss raced to his half-century in a little more than an hour, and Cook reached the landmark in the last over of the day.
Earlier, Steve Harmison struck early, when he had Kejel Tyson caught behind for three, but England’s bowlers had to toil before Panesar removed Steve Liburd for 25 and Stuart Broad snared the home team’s captain Shane Jeffers for 27 to leave St Kitts and Nevis 94 for three at lunch.
Jimmy Anderson set the hosts back further, when he bowled Junie Mitchum for nine and had Elsroy Powell adjudged lbw for 18 to leave them on 138 for five.
Broad added the scalp of Codville Rogers, whose 63 was the top score for St Kitts and Nevis, before he was caught at gully, and Adil Rashid claimed his first England wicket, when Terrance Ward was caught behind for one — both wickets fell with the total on 155.
A stand of 78 between Akito Willett, the son of former West Indies spinner Elquemedo Willett, and Joel Simmonds added some respectability to the St Kitts and Nevis total before Panesar returned to mop up the tail with the last three wickets which fell for 18.
Broad ended with the impressive figures of two for 26 from 10 overs and Jimmy Anderson took two for 48 from 12 overs.
England have a three-day tour match against West Indies A, starting tomorrow at the same venue, before travelling to Jamaica for the first Test which starts on Feb. 4.