England 15/0 (Trail by 99 runs)
It is almost unfair on Ben Stokes for having to deliver whenever England play. But when two frontline bowlers let the team down, the responsibility to shoulder the burden shifts to the most capable.
Standing at second slip, Stokes could only watch and not cringe as Jofra Archer bowled far too many on the pads with the second new ball. Neither could he demand Mark Wood to change his style and bowl further up. Sticking to the policy of intimidation, Wood did not bowl a single full ball until the last session. However, after both Jason Holder and Alzzari Joseph drilled a full ball from him down the ground, one can understand why.
Shane Dowrich and Holder drilled England in an unbeaten 295-run stand in Barbados when England toured there in 2018-19. With lead getting healthy and their partnership fresh in memory, Stokes took it upon himself to lift his side. Getting his revenge, he had Holder hooking a bumper to the Barbadian in England’s team standing at fine leg.
Amid a bloody left foot, Stokes continued bending his back. As he cleaned up Joseph a couple of overs later, he became the second-fastest cricketer to a double of 4000 Test runs and 150 wickets.
Earlier, Roston Chase increased momentum with the second new ball, adding 20 runs in the 21 balls after Tea. Fifth over of the spell continued to be the charm for Anderson as he caught Chase in front of the wickets. Only this time, the on-field umpire did not agree with the English players and the third umpire had to intervene.
Shane Dowrich added 31 runs in the session and became the second half-centurion for the West Indies. With 37 more runs in just this innings than what he managed in six innings last time he toured England, he rests aside the horrid memories.
The England openers just about managed to go past 10 testing overs before the close unscathed. But, with 99 runs in the arrears, England might need Stokes to stand up for his team once again.
West Indies 235/5 (lead by 31 runs)
Battered and going through the motion until the new ball. This was the state of affairs for the eleven England players on the field. Even the other two non-playing Englishmen did not feel involved enough as there was just one convincing appeal in the entire session.
Of all the things England did not do right in the morning session, one was to take James Anderson off after four overs. It was the fifth over in his second spell of the day when Anderson conjured an awkward delivery that led Shamarh Brooks to try and flirt.
By now, the distrust towards the umpires on the field had set in. Brooks went for the review on an obvious tickle, only to get one docked off his side’s quota. While contributing only 39, Brooks was the best West Indian batsman so far on the quality of shots played.
This was only the second Test for Jermaine Blackwood since 2017. And the way he got out explained why. On the seventh ball he faced, he played an ugly hoick on an Anderson delivery a little over the off-side ring. Two overs later, in an effort to show Dom Bess his true place, he danced down the track and creamed one straight to mid-off.
As if to coach Blackwood, Shane Dowrich took on Bess for two boundaries straight away. He was pragmatic enough to ensure reaching to the pitch of the ball before lofting it. Carrying on from where Brooks left, Dowrich added a decent 30 at a strike-rate of 62.5.
It will be tough to compliment Roston Chase on the pace with which he batted. Watching him add 14 runs in 100 balls in the session might have led Virat Kohli to switch off his TV. On the other hand, Cheteshwar Pujara might be looking for his contact number to send him a note of appreciation. Between all the strokes, good and rash, Chase gets full points on solidity.
West Indies 159/3 (Trail by 45 runs)
Sunshine and cloudless skies welcomed the West Indies batsmen. Add to it their fluency and you have a 102-run session.
The slow nature of the wicket was evident when first, a pull by Shai Hope fell just short of mid-on. And later, when the same by Kraigg Brathwaite went past the bowler. Mark Wood started the day bowling a tad fuller but resorted to intimidation with a short leg soon.
James Anderson produced a review on the first ball of his spell. But, that was the only bright spot in the four overs of action for him in the session. Not able to get an early wicket, he seemed irritated. Not sure what affected his mood the most – bright sunshine, lack of swing or the number of balls that ended at the batsmen’s pads.
Jofra Archer continued where Wood left off. Only at around 8 to 10 miles slower. After three overs of intimidation, during which the duo completed the fifty-run stand, Archer altered his plans.
Pitching further up, he struck Hope on his pads to which Richard Kettleborough obliged. After coming worse off from reviews yesterday, this time it was Archer's front foot that had England miss a wicket.
Yesterday with the bat, today with the ball, Dom Bess continues to impress. Modelling himself on Nathon Lyon since playing in South Africa earlier this year: jump, action, seam position, drift, you name it. Hope could not handle all the freshly acquired talent as he nicked one off to first slip.
Shamarh Brooks looked like a batsman coming off after a Test century. Never mind the gap of eternity in between. Fluent to spin and seam, he hit four crisp boundaries in the session.
Scoring 62% of his 65 runs on the leg side, Brathwaite got to a fifty after 22 innings. Ben Stokes came out to ball after others had their go. In a happening, Brathwaite shuffled across to hit two boundaries to fine leg. A boundary through the covers separated these two. With three boundaries in the over, Stokes bowled one in the off-stump channel. Trying to play it on the leg side, Brathwaite missed the ball and for a change, both the umpires on and off the field agreed on a decision.