Rory Burns and Joe Root were phenomenal but it was Stuart Broad who hogged most of the limelight on Day 3 of the third and final Test against West Indies at the Old Trafford, Manchester on Sunday (July 26). The 34-year-old finished with six wickets in the first innings and then took two more in the second to demolish West Indies in the series decider. Broad is now just one wicket away from becoming the fourth paceman to take 500 wickets in the longest format of the game, while England are eight wickets away from winning the series.
The Caribbean side were bundled out for 197 in 65 overs in the morning session, conceding a 172-run first-innings lead. It was Stuart Broad who dismantled the West Indies batting line-up by picking up 6 for 31 in the first essay. In the second innings, Burns (90), Dominic Sibley (56) and Root (68*) all hit half-centuries as England declared on 226/2 in 58 overs, setting West Indies a 399-run target in the series decider.
In response, West Indies lost John Campbell and nightwatchman Kemar Roach and were 10/2 in six overs when the stumps were drawn on the third day. The visiting side still need 389 runs and only the rain gods can save them from a defeat, unless the West Indies batting unit comes up with a miraculous performance.
Earlier, fifties from Rory Burns, Ollie Pope, Jos Buttler and Stuart Broad helped England post a formidable first-innings total of 369. England seamers then bowled with great control and reduced the visiting side to 137 for 6 by the end of Day 2. Still trailing by 232 runs, and needing 33 more to avoid the follow-on, Jason Holder and Shane Dowrich showed positive intent from the word go on Day 3 and played a couple of gorgeous shots through the off-side to get the ball rolling.
Under overcast skies, the surface was still offering enough movement to the seamers but Holder and Dowrich pounced on every bad delivery and scored at a very good rate. The two brought up their 50-run partnership in 67 deliveries. Holder was even given a lifeline in the 55th over when he flicked Chris Woakes towards mid-wicket and Pope took a stunning diving catch, but the replays suggested that the paceman had overstepped. This was only the second time Woakes had bowled a no-ball in Test cricket.
In the process, he also completed 2000 runs in Tests. He became only the third West Indian player after Sir Garfield Sobers and Carl Hooper to achieve the double of 2000 runs and 100 Test wickets. Holder and Dowrich had added 68 runs for the seventh wicket but just when everything was going smooth for West Indies, Joe Root introduced Broad into the attack for the first time on Day 3 and the paceman pinned Holder right in front of the stumps with a superb nip-backer. The West Indies captain fell four short of his half-century, but did help his team avoid the follow-on.
Broad, who was dropped for the first Test, then dismissed Rahkeem Cornwall in a similar fashion and then had Kemar Roach caught at first slip with a brilliant leg-cutter to complete his 18th Test five-wicket haul. Jofra Archer, Woakes and James Anderson bowled ahead of him on the third day but the moment Broad got his opportunity, the 34-year-old dismantled the West Indies lower-order. With wickets falling at the other end, Dowrich started playing his shots and eventually became Broad's sixth victim. The wicketkeeper-batsman scored 37 before he was caught at mid-on.
England already had a sizeable lead and needed to score at a good rate, something that they did in the second Test. However, they sent in their regular openers - Burns and Sibley - but the two played their natural game and didn't try to do anything uncharacteristic.
Meanwhile, West Indies had a couple of injury scares in the second innings. Their captain Holder injured his left thumb while fielding in the slip cordon and had to get it all strapped. He soon returned back on the field but few overs later, wicketkeeper Dowrich got hit on the mouth as he couldn't gather the ball cleanly. Shai Hope donned the gloves for few deliveries before Joshua da Silva came in as the substitute wicketkeeper.
Burns and Sibley hardly took any chances and scored at less than three runs per over. Roston Chase and Cornwall bowled in tandem and didn't allow the two batsmen to score freely. The duo went about their business in a quiet manner and played out the entire second session. Their approach however did come as a surprise considering the forecast for the last two days isn’t looking good. The strike rotation was good, but the two struggled with their timing whenever they tried to up the ante.
The two however carried on and brought up the 100-run partnership. This was after 92 Test innings a pair had managed a 100-run stand in England. Just after Sibley completed his half-century, the right-hander was pinned right in front of the stumps when he was on 56. As a result, Holder became only the ninth cricketer to take 100 Test wickets as captain. Meanwhile, Burns too got to his fifty.
Coming in at No. 3, Joe Root brought that much-needed urgency and along with Burns accelerated the scoring rate. The England skipper walked in with an aggressive approach and especially went after Cornwall. The two batsmen kept playing their shots and Root got to his fifty off 49 deliveries. The 29-year-old slammed Roach for three boundaries in an over and in total, smashed eight fours and a six.
West Indies looked clueless in the final session and allowed England to dictate terms. The idea was to give England seamers 20-25 minutes against the tired West Indies batsmen and Burns had to go for big shots. The left-hander tried his best but fell 10 short of his third Test century. However, that gave Broad ample time to have a go at the West Indies top-order and it was enough for the right-arm paceman to once again make his presence felt.