Captain Jason Holder carved out a monumental and entertaining maiden double hundred while Shane Dowrich struck an unbeaten century, as West Indies dominated England and set them an improbable target of 628 runs to win the opening Test today.
The 27-year-old Holder finished on an unbeaten 202 to become the first West Indies number eight to score a double century as the hosts piled up 415 for six declared in their second innings, to completely demoralise the English on the third day of the contest at Kensington Oval.
The diminutive Dowrich chipped in with a compact 116 not out, his third Test century, an innings that ensured West Indies batted nearly 2-½ sessions without losing a wicket.
He and Holder, who came together in the final over of Thursday’s second day, put on 295 for the seventh wicket – a record-stand against England.
Left with just over an hour to navigate before the close, England reached 56 without loss with little alarm at the close, still 571 adrift of their target with two days remaining.
Rory Burns was unbeaten on 39 off 63 balls with eight fours while partner Keaton Jennings was already bunkering down for the long haul, unbeaten on 11 from 57 balls without a single boundary.
However, the day belonged to West Indies who built on their second-day supremacy to ensure there was no way back for the stunned English.
Strutting his immense talent like a colossus, Holder hardly put a foot wrong as he overtook each landmark with increasing confidence to stamp West Indies’ authority.
All told, he smashed 23 fours and eight sixes in an innings requiring just 229 balls in 4-¾ hours, to notch only the second double hundred by a West Indies captain against England.
His double hundred was the fastest by a West Indies batsman against the English and only the second by a Windies captain since the iconic Brian Lara.
Dowrich, meanwhile, faced 224 balls in 5-¾ hours and counted 11 fours and a six.
Resuming the day on seven with his side on 127 for six – 339 runs ahead – Holder quickly got into stride, reaching his half-century off 60 deliveries in just past the first hour, with a single off ineffective left-arm seamer Sam Curran.
Dowrich, picking up from his overnight 27, reached his half-century soon afterwards when he flicked Curran to the wide mid-on boundary.
He was unbeaten on 61 at lunch with Holder on 80, and they continued to frustrate England in the second session, adding a further 112 runs without any loss of a wicket.
Holder, as expected was first to triple figures, speeding to the landmark off just 99 balls in the third over after the break by lifting leg-spinner Adil Rashid over the ropes at long off.
He had cleared the long on ropes with the same bowler off the second ball after lunch before easing into the 90s with a boundary to third man off off-spinner Joe Root who bowled quite a number of leg-breaks as well.
The hundred was this third in Tests following similar feats against England in Antigua in 2015, and against Zimbabwe two years later.
Holder survived chances on 127 and 151 to reach 155 not out at tea with Dowrich on 97, and West Indies already 561 runs ahead.
Dowrich then brought up his century in the third over following the break when he cut off-spinner Moeen Ali (3-78) to the point boundary.
Any hopes of an immediate declaration perished, however, as Holder, with eyes firmly set on his double century, proceeded to manhandle the dispirited English bowlers.
He deposited luckless seamer Ben Stokes (2-81) over long on for six and then picked up another boundary to third man in the same over to move into the 170s. He smashed Ali over the ropes at long on and then to the mid-wicket boundary also in the same over, to storm into the 180s.
Holder belted bits-and-pieces part-time medium pacer Keaton Jennings over long on for his final six to get to 190 and raised his double when he bludgeoned the same bowler to the wide long boundary three-quarters of an hour after tea, triggering the declaration.