Adrian Barath rode his luck to guide the West Indies to 85 for one at lunch on the third day of the first Test against England at Edgbaston yesterday.
Barath was 40 not out, featuring a six and four fours, and Test debutant Assad Fudadin 15 not out.
After the first two days had been washed out without a ball bowled, it was no surprise when England captain Andrew Strauss opted to field first after winning the toss against a West Indies side whose top-order collapses had helped the hosts into an unassailable 2-0 lead in this three-match series.
Before this match, England had left James Anderson out of their 12-man squad in order to rest the Lancashire seamer and, before play started yesterday, they also left out Stuart Broad — although judging by the conversation he had during the warm-up with England coach Andy Flower, this came as a surprise to Broad.
Both Graham Onions and Steven Finn were called up in place of the new-ball duo and, in overcast conditions, it was Onions, in his first Test in over two years, who nearly had an early breakthrough.
Barath had made just four when Onions took his outside edge only for Ian Bell, fielding in the third slip position often occupied by Anderson, to drop the straightforward chance.
Barath had added just one run when he survived an LBW appeal from Onions, after England failed in their review of New Zealand umpire Tony Hill’s original not-out decision.
However, both left-hander Kieran Powell and Barath did off-drive Tim Bresnan, opening the attack alongside Onions, for well-struck fours.
Although he had looked the least threatening of England’s three seamers, it was Bresnan who took the first wicket, when he had Powell caught by second slip Graeme Swann for 24 to leave the tourists 49 for one.
However, it was not long before left-hander Fudadin, in for the dropped Kirk Edwards, drove Finn through the covers for four.
Off-spinner Swann came on in a change to England’s all right-arm pace attack, but Barath responded by advancing down the pitch to loft his fifth ball for a straight six.