England hold slim chance of Test win

Only Brian Lara (778 and 760) has played a longer Test innings for West Indies in terms of minutes
Second Test, Barbados (day four):
England 507-9 dec & 40-0: Crawley 21*, Lees 18*
West Indies 411: Brathwaite 160, Blackwood 102; Leach 3-118
England lead by 136 runs

England gave themselves a slim chance of victory over West Indies in the second Test in Barbados by taking a lead of 136 into the final day.

After finally dismissing West Indies for 411, England openers Alex Lees and Zak Crawley reached 40-0 at the close having faced 15 overs.

The tourists will look for quick runs in the morning session before declaring and attempting to bowl out their opponents in the time remaining for victory.

But the struggle England had ending West Indies’ first innings, which lasted 187.5 overs, shows the difficulties they will face.

West Indies captain Kraigg Brathwaite turned his 109 not out overnight into an 11-hour 160 from 489 balls before he was finally bowled by Jack Leach.

On a turgid pitch that makes run-scoring and wicket-taking tough, England’s bowlers toiled until they took the 10th West Indies wicket in the evening session.

The series opener in Antigua was drawn so if this Test ends in the same result the series will be level at 0-0 going into the final match in Grenada, starting on Thursday.

Another tiring bowling day

Slow, difficult-to-watch cricket is becoming a theme of this series.

Again, not helped by the surface and not without effort, England struggled to create openings. Even if they manage to get to a position to declare they will have to bowl better than their first effort to have any chance of winning.

Their toil began from the outset of day four when nightwatchman Alzarri Joseph hung around for 20 overs before cutting to gully off Ben Stokes for 19 from 75 balls.

A clatter of wickets would have put the tourists in a much stronger position but that did not look like happening all day as West Indies dug in. Before lunch there was a period of one run in 51 balls, with England’s bowlers offering very little.

Jason Holder skied a catch to mid-on straight after lunch, giving Saqib Mahmood his first Test wicket, but Joshua da Silva then blunted the bowling with 33 from 112 balls.

Left-arm spinner Leach bowled 69.5 overs across the marathon innings, the most in an innings by an England bowler since Phil Tufnell against New Zealand in 1992. His three wickets were a disappointing return on a day four pitch.

The number of overs Leach bowled, and the ineffectiveness of the seamers, also brings into question England’s selection, with uncapped Lancashire leg-spinner Matt Parkinson an unused member of the squad.

However, you cannot escape the fact this is a poor pitch for Test cricket, just like the first in Antigua.

Brathwaite goes long

Brathwaite’s knock, which began on the second day, was an impressive example of resilience and patience.

In the spell before lunch, runs ground to a halt and Brathwaite faced 30 dot balls in a row. Only West Indies legend Brian Lara, who did so twice, has batted longer than Brathwaite’s 710 minutes in a Test innings.

It took a fine ball from Leach, which pitched on middle and leg stump and hit the top of off, to dismiss him. For England there were too few such deliveries.

West Indies’ effort was admirable but the fact they batted slowly, scoring at 2.18 runs per over, meant they still had a sizeable deficit when finally dismissed.

The hosts bowled tidily enough late in the day that England were not able to make a fast start in building their advantage.

Crawley was given out lbw for two off the bowling of Kemar Roach but overturned the decision on review as the technology had the ball missing leg stump.

More to follow

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