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England vs West Indies, 1st Test, Day 4: West Indies bounce back in the last hour

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To say the West Indies showed no intent and had no plans would be incorrect. They were aware of what was happening. Perhaps, it was that kind of a day, when things happened a bit late and not when they wanted. They got into the game in the last hour and made England reel.

The fourth day of the first Test resumed when England were trailing by 99 runs with all wickets in hand. The overnight batsmen, Rory Burns and Dominic Sibley, had sun cream on their face. Skipper Jason Holder and some of his men donned goggles. The jumpers were left behind in the changing room. The sun gleamed on the dry pitch and on the players too. The puffed white clouds in the sunny sky promised a full day of cricket, or rather a day which would decide the course of the contest.

Burns and Sibley blocked, drove, flicked, rotated the strike, left the ball and brought up the 50 run-partnership. Burns flicked the leg stump yorker off Shannon Gabriel, who tried to repeat the first innings dismissal, but fell to off-spinner Roston Chase for 42. Sibley saw the bowlers attacking his ribs on and outside leg stump.

 

When Alzarri Joseph bowled, Holder, so sure of the batsman’s weakness, stood at leg-slip, expecting a catch. Eventually, Gabriel induced an edge on 50 (164) and keeper Shane Dowrich went low on his left to catch the ball. Exactly the way the West Indians had wanted! The bowler just two balls before the dismissal, had cleaned him up off a controversial no-ball.

The openers fell just when they were on the brink of clearing the deficit, with Rory Burns, after a hard grind, falling to a loosener off Roston Chase. They had made sure that the eight batsmen to follow them will not have to bear the burden of setting a formidable target. And that was not going to be easy. Holder, unlike other days, came to the bowlers and spoke regularly.

Shortly, flicking Chase, Joe Denly gave a simple catch to Holder at 29 (70), while at the other end, Zak Crawley kept himself busy by scoring runs fluently. Crawley brought up his fifty in 127 balls and went on to register his career best score of 76. Skipper Ben Stokes, like in the first innings, took his time to settle in and again advanced, on many occasions, down the pitch. He looked positive and did play a few strokes, the successive boundaries on his right side off Gabriel were sublime. Both batsmen fell soon after stitching together a 98-run partnership, continuing a terrible trend for England batsmen.

 

The next seven overs put England on the back foot. The big blow came when Jos Buttler, who has the reputation of making quick runs, saw his leg stump uprooted from an inside edge off Joseph. Then, Gabriel beautifully clean bowled Dom Bees and Ollie Pope to sink the hosts further. England, at stumps, were 284-8, with a lead of a mere 170 runs.

While the sun played hide and seek among the clouds, creating a chiaroscuro effect at the Rose Bowl, the players would have left the field with a lot of questions in mind. The prime poser being who wins tomorrow?

Brief scores, Day 4: England – 284 – 8 (104), lead by 170 runs. Zak Crawley 76 (127), Ben Stokes 46 (79); Shannon Gabriel 62/3, Alzarri Joseph 40/2.



A leggie who aspires to be a cricket journalist.