England vs West Indies, 2nd Test, Day 5: All-round Ben Stokes leads England to a series-levelling win

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Ben Stokes with the bat, Ben Stokes with the ball, Ben Stokes everywhere. That has been the story of this series, this Test match and it wasn’t too different on the final day of this second Test. Everything that the England vice-captain touched turned into gold. He scored big runs at a rapid rate and gave England some vital breakthroughs to lead them to victory and level the series 1-1.

It was a fascinating final day’s play at the Old Trafford in Manchester. England went into the fifth day with the hope of levelling the series. West Indies barely managed to avoid the follow-on late on the fourth day. However, England came out all guns blazing in the first session today.

England started the day on 38/2 with Joe Root and Ben Stokes at the crease and it was all Stokes with the bat. As Root somewhat struggled to find the boundary, Stokes took the onus upon himself to do the bulk of the scoring. Right from the very first over of the day, he was in command. He smoked boundaries at will. The pace-bowling all-rounder got the runs flowing at an excellent rate as England had declaration in sight.

Yes, Stokes was dropped on 29 by John Campbell off Shannon Gabriel but apart from that there were hardly any other moments where he wasn’t in control. He smashed a 57-ball 78 as helped England to score 91 runs in 11 overs in the morning session before they declared.

West Indies had 85 overs to survive and force a draw or score 312 to seal the series 2-0. With the fight and determination that they’ve shown in this series so far, an enthralling fourth innings was in store.

Stuart Broad in the company of Chris Woakes had other ideas. The 138-Test veteran ran through the West Indies top order on either side of lunch. He first had Campbell caught-behind in the first over of the innings before Kraigg Braithwaite was pinned LBW by Woakes. Broad knocked over Shai Hope with a nip-backer to leave West Indies reeling at 25/3 at lunch. Soon after the lunch interval, the lead England pacer removed the stoic Roston Chase to give England the upper hand.

Just when it seemed like England would run through the West Indian batting line-up, Shamarh Brooks (62) and Jermaine Blackwood (55) put up a defiant stand and arrested the slide. They put on 100 runs for the fifth wicket. Both players scored their respective half-centuries and were motoring along nicely. There was hardly anything happening with the old ball and both batsmen were blunting out the English attack. That’s when Stokes came to the fore once again. He bowled a barrage of short deliveries before removing Blackwood on the stroke of Tea.

That wicket of Blackwood turned the tide as West Indies collapsed. Woakes picked up the wicket of Shane Dowrich soon after the Tea break which marked his 100th Test wicket. Meanwhile, Brooks was undone by a Sam Curran inswinger. Skipper Jason Holder hung around for a while and played a few strokes before Dom Bess came back to knock him over through the gate. Once Holder departed, it was a matter of time and England wrapped up the innings and bowled the visitors out for 198.

England won by 113 runs and levelled the series 1-1. Ben Stokes was named the player of the match for his all-round show – 254 runs, three wickets and one catch.

The third Test starts on Friday (24th July) at the same venue – Old Trafford, Manchester.

Brief Scores: England 469/9 decl. and 129/3 decl. (Stokes 78 not out) beat West Indies 287 and 198 (Brooks 62, Blackwood 55, Broad 3/42, Stokes 2/30, Woakes 2/34)