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Chris Woakes drags it back to revive England’s hopes of important lead

Tea West Indies 134 for 7 (Joseph 5*, da Silva 6*) path England 204 (Mahmood 49, Leach 41*, Seales 3-40) by 70 runs

England’s seamers did unto West Indies what had been accomplished unto their very own top-order – however solely after a now-familiar false begin in a toothless new-ball show – because the third Take a look at in Grenada gathered a chaotic momentum on the second afternoon.

From a serene platform of fifty for 0 after the primary hour of the day’s play, West Indies had been left scrambling for tea on 134 for 7, following a near-identical collapse to that which had left England within the mire within the contest’s opening exchanges.

And central to the chaos was the maligned determine of Chris Woakes – a participant whose newest shortcomings with the brand new ball had been certainly about to persuade the England administration that his unquestioned good-eggery isn’t any compensation for his lack of penetration in abroad situations.

However then, after Ben Stokes – inevitably – had proven the best way for his crew by dragging his size again to entice Kraigg Brathwaite lbw for 17 and set in movement a pre-lunch wobble for 3 for 19, Woakes re-emerged after the break together with his strategies recalibrated and his menace ranges hovering.

Twice in his first two overs, Woakes was within the motion with a brace of opinions for leg-side catches – neither of them out, however each of them telegraphing the discomfort on provide on an more and more two-paced floor. After which, with a startling change-up in tempo, he fired in a cross-seamer to the stubborn Nkrumah Bonner, who flapped together with his gloves because the ball skidded by way of decrease than anticipated, and Ben Foakes scooped the deflection to substantiate West Indies’ panic at 82 for 4.

Three balls later, and it was all fingers to the pump for a floundering batting line-up. Woakes fired in one other quick ball to the imposing Jason Holder, whose response was his third unworthy shot in as many innings – a spiralling top-edged pull to Jonny Bairstow at sq. leg, and within the area of a single over, Woakes had doubled his sequence wickets tally, and halved his common, from 88.50 and climbing to the mid-40s.

All of the sudden his tail was up and his luck had turned. Two overs later, Jermaine Blackwood hacked a flashy minimize previous the diving Craig Overton at gully for 4, solely to fall to his very subsequent ball, as Woakes fired within the fuller size, and extracted an umpire’s name lbw with the batter pinned in entrance of leg stump.

Although Kyle Mayers then introduced his spell to an abrupt finish by hacking a calculated pull over midwicket for six, besides, Woakes’ figures of three for 32 had been already his second-best in 20 abroad Assessments – and probably a match-winning intervention, given the chance that this floor is barely going to get increasingly more uneven as the competition approaches the fourth innings.

For that cause, Mayers took it upon himself to inject some impetus right into a stalled innings. Twice, he climbed into Overton with unconventional hacks in entrance of sq. for boundaries earlier than deflecting Jack Leach to the third man boundary after his belated introduction for the forty third over.

However as soon as once more, it was Stokes – discomforted, not for the primary time, by his long-standing knee harm – who rejoined the assault to finish Mayers’ threatening keep on 28. There was maybe a touch of reverse swing at play as he bent a full ball into center stump, and Mahmood at midwicket swallowed a snug chip. From 128 for 7, it was left to Joshua da Silva and Alzarri Joseph to achieve tea with no additional loss, and a nonetheless sizeable deficit of 70.

That determine is 20 runs fewer than Leach and Mahmood had added for England’s tenth wicket on the primary night, in fact. However whether or not that partnership had been a mirrored image on the situations or the bowling, nonetheless, was a distinctly moot level. Regardless of the sense that the nibble within the deck had dissipated, the onus had nonetheless been on England’s personal seamers to strike exhausting and quick within the morning session.

As an alternative – and never for the primary time on this sequence – England’s new ball got here and went with scarcely a touch of hassle for West Indies’ opening pair. Previous to this sequence, Brathwaite and John Campbell hadn’t made a half-century stand on dwelling soil since England’s final go to to the Caribbean in 2019 – and so they’ve by no means but made a century stand in 35 makes an attempt, essentially the most by a top-order pair in Take a look at historical past.

They’ve, nonetheless, racked up three fifty stands in as many Assessments this sequence, and as soon as once more their success was a mirrored image of England’s insufficient use of the brand new ball. Woakes and Overton, reprieved for this Take a look at due to the harm points which have beset Ollie Robinson and Mark Wooden, as soon as once more floated the ball up too full and large for a cracked floor that demanded the ball be pushed into the deck to extract the uneven bounce, and each males had been all too simply thwarted within the opening exchanges.

However then Stokes confirmed the best way with a shin-smasher to dislodge Brathwaite for his lowest rating of the sequence, and one over later, Campbell acquired in a tangle to a fearsome lifter from Overton, which adopted him into his tried duck and smashed him flush on the visor. He carried on after a compulsory concussion take a look at, however the success of that size was a sign of the menace that awaited if England had been prepared to check the amenities.

Positive sufficient, Mahmood dragged his personal size again to pin Shamarh Brooks in entrance of leg stump with a equally skiddy supply to Stokes’, after which, six balls later and within the penultimate over of the session, Overton’s aggression into Campbell’s physique paid dividends, as he scuffed an tried pull down the leg aspect, and was despatched on his method after a evaluation.

It was an indication of lengths to come back, and by tea, England had dragged it again, in additional methods than one.

Andrew Miller is UK editor of ESPNcricinfo. @miller_cricket

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ESPNcricinfo is a sports news website exclusively for the game of cricket. The site features news, articles, live coverage of cricket matches, and StatsGuru, a database of historical matches and players from the 18th century to the present. As of March 2018, Sambit Bal was the editor.

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