England on top after a marathon Stokes, Sibley stand

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17 Jul 2020 | 09:37 AM
authorShubh Aggarwal

England on top after a marathon Stokes, Sibley stand

Ben Stokes and Dom Sibley added 260 for the fourth wicket to help England to 469 decl. In reply West Indies were 32-1

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The first six days of the series were marked by intriguing contests between bat and ball. On the seventh, however, it drifted towards one side with England emerging on top, thanks to the brilliance and tenacity shown by Ben Stokes and Dom Sibley. Later in the day, Sam Curran made it even better by getting rid of John Campbell.

Having declared at 469 for nine, Curran, after a testing but unproductive burst from Stuart Broad and Chris Woakes, struck in his first over.

Hitting the left-hander's pads, England had to go upstairs to get the decision in their favour. Although, the home side will feel they could have ended on a better note. In the last over of the day, Curran struck night-watchman Alzarri Joseph’s foot right in front. Unsure if there was bat in between, they opted out of another review only to find out later that they could have had West Indies two down. 

It was, nevertheless, a satisfying day for Joe Root’s men. Stokes and Sibley kept West Indies on the field forging the second-longest batting stand for England in terms of balls faced. Continuing their grind from yesterday, they went on for 568 deliveries adding 260 runs for the fourth wicket. 

Sibley, while notching up his second Test ton scored 120. His hundred was completed off 312 deliveries, minutes before lunch, making him the proprietor of the seventh slowest hundred in England Test history. It is also only their third hundred taking more than 300 balls since 2000. 

Stokes, who went to lunch at 99, reached three-figures off 255 balls - the slowest hundred of his Test career. His 356-ball knock is also the most number of balls he has batted in a Test innings beating his effort in Rajkot in 2016 by a hefty margin of 121 deliveries.

The hard-earned milestones were a reward of the travails of another testing session to start day 2. In the first hour of the day’s play, they managed only 22 runs from 13 overs. This was the only period when West Indies showed firepower in their bowling arsenal. Both the overnight batsmen were drawn into more false strokes during this phase than they did throughout yesterday. Although, Shannon Gabriel began with a wide delivery to Jason Holder at second slip, he soon strung a few good balls together. In that six-over burst, he induced 31 percent of false strokes with Alzarri Joseph from the other end maintaining a tight line and length. 

Both attained lateral movement with the old ball. Despite the new ball available, West Indies persisted with the old nut till the 94th over as it was still swinging under cloudy conditions. Success was not forthcoming though. The new ball did little favours for the visiting bowlers. Consequently, the second hour of the morning session saw an improvement in England's run-rate. They collected 35 runs in 13 overs also ensuring another wicketless session for the home side. 

Post-lunch, the run-rate picked up further once Stokes completed his hundred. He scored his first fifty runs at a strike-rate of 42, next fifty at 36.3. But by the time Sibley departed, Stokes accrued another 52 runs off only 51 deliveries. 

Stokes’ charge took West Indies aback. This was the most monotonous session of the visitors' bowling where they leaked 114 runs from 31 overs for two wickets. The session also saw Joseph walk off the field due to a minor injury scare.

Sibley trying to contribute to Stokes' efforts holed out at deep mid-wicket off Roston Chase. When Ollie Pope fell to the innocuous off-spinner a few overs later, Stokes went back to his shell scoring his last 21 runs off 50 deliveries. 

He was finally dismissed for 176 gloving Kemar Roach to the wicketkeeper in a bizarre attempt to reverse-sweep the pacer in the final session. This was the time when England had finally decided to step on the accelerator given the rain forecast for day 3.

Roach sent Chris Woakes back off the next delivery ending an 87-over long drought for a wicket with consecutive strikes. 

When Jos Buttler departed for 40, it seemed England would have to stay content with a total below 450. However, a tired Gabriel missed out a straightforward run-out opportunity which allowed Dom Bess to open out stretching England to 469 for nine. 

In between, Chase completed the third five-wicket haul of his career. His figures read five for 172. 

The forecast for the third day is for heavy rain which could potentially result in a washout. While West Indies will hope for the forecast to come true, it will be a dent in England's chances to level the series after all the hard work they have put in with the bat. 

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Jason Omar HolderDominic Peter SibleyBenjamin Andrew StokesEnglandWest IndiesShannon Terry GabrielSamuel Matthew CurranWest Indies tour of England, 2020Old Trafford, ManchesterEngland vs West Indies - 2nd Test - The Wisden Trophy, 2020

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