Sat, Apr 18, 2015 - Page 20 News List

England in control, despite West Indies resistance

AFP, NORTH SOUND, Antigua and Barbuda

England’s Joe Root is clean bowled in the first Test against the West Indies at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in Antigua on Thursday.

Photo: Reuters

England worked themselves into a winning position, despite strong West Indies resistance in their second innings on the fourth day of the first Test at Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in Antigua on Thursday.

Set an improbable 438 for victory after the tourists declared their second innings at 333-7 in the afternoon session, the hosts reached the close of play at 98-2, with opening batsman Devon Smith leading the way with an unbeaten 59.

While the pitch has held up well over the four days, it is England who remain favorites to complete their first-ever Test match victory in Antigua, especially with the threat posed by their slow bowlers, even the part-time ones.

It was Joe Root, one of those occasional bowlers, who made an important breakthrough late in the day, drawing Darren Bravo (32) into a loose shot for Chris Jordan to take his second stunning catch of the match at slip.

Kraigg Brathwaite was the early casualty, fending off a lifting delivery in Stuart Broad’s first over to Root.

England’s rush for runs in the afternoon session resulted in a declaration at 333-7, Gary Ballance getting to 122, his fourth Test century.

Playing in just his ninth Test match, the Zimbabwe-born left-hander got good support from Root and Ben Stokes in continuing to dominate a deflated West Indies bowling attack in the morning, 108 runs coming in the two hours’ play for just the loss of Root’s wicket.

“It’s been a tough winter with the World Cup disappointments and all that, so it was good to get runs out here so early,” Ballance said at the end of the day. “It was tough going. You really had to grind it out in these conditions.”

Ballance and Root had extended their fourth-wicket partnership to 114 when the right-hander played on to fast-medium bowler Jason Holder for the second time in the match. His knock of 59 followed an 83 in the first innings.

In conditions tailor-made for batting, he was obviously bitterly disappointed at not being able to carry on to three figures.

However, Jos Buttler dominated the run chase in the second session.

Coming to the crease after Ben Stokes was stumped off the bowling of Sulieman Benn almost immediately after lunch, he smashed his way to an unbeaten 59 and made the task considerably easier for his captain, Alastair Cook, to arrive at a declaration that would give his bowlers a few overs at the West Indies before the break.

Reputed as a fluent stroke-maker, Ballance’s innings was a determined, watchful effort. He faced 250 deliveries in just over five hours at the crease, stroking 11 fours and two sixes, before the quest for quick runs brought about his demise to the persevering Benn.

None of the home side’s bowlers appeared threatening and with only four specialists chosen in the final XI — a tactic designed more to save the match than to win it — a tiring attack wilted under the withering attack of the England batsmen.

This story has been viewed 1739 times.

Comments will be moderated. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned.

TOP top