NORTH SOUND, Antigua – Another incisive display from West Indies’ seamers once again brutally exposed England’s suspect batting, as the visitors folded cheaply in their first innings to give the hosts command of the opening day of the second Test today.
Still brimming with confidence following their dominant first Test victory last weekend in Bridgetown, the Windies hardly put a foot wrong as they bundled England out for 187 before reaching the close on 30 without loss – 157 runs behind heading into Friday’s day two at the Vivian Richards Cricket Ground.
Veteran seamer Kemar Roach bowled superbly to claim four for 30 while new-ball partner Shannon Gabriel worked up a fair turn of pace on the two-paced surface to finish with three for 45.
Alzarri Joseph snatched two for 38 – both wickets coming before lunch as West Indies started the day strongly and dictated the opening session.
Left-hander Moeen Ali top-scored with a counter-attacking 60 while Jonny Bairstow also played authoritatively for his 52.
Wicketkeeper Ben Foakes chipped in with 35 but was one of four wickets to tumble after tea as England’s lower order were wiped out by the hostile pair of Roach and Gabriel, 52 minutes after the resumption.
Chasing their first series win over a higher-ranked side in seven years, West Indies made early breakthroughs after winning the toss and choosing to bowl.
England made a circumspect start but it was Roach who made the breakthrough, having left-hander Rory Burns caught at second slip for four by captain Jason Holder going low to his right, with the score on four in the fifth over of the morning.
Debutant Joe Denly (6) made an inauspicious start to his international career, toe-edging Joseph’s first ball of the morning – a wide long hop – to be caught at the wicket at 16 for two, near the hour mark.
Joseph then got the prized wicket of Joe Root for seven, the England skipper gloving a lifting delivering to third slip where John Campbell parried for Shai Hope running around from fourth slip to complete the diving catch at 34 for three, three-quarters of an hour before lunch.
And England suffered yet another blow about 20 minutes before the break when Jos Buttler edged an out-swinger from Holder to Campbell at second slip, to fall for one.
Bairstow chose attack as the best form of defence, hammering nine fours and a six – an astonishing blow over extra cover off Holder – in a breezy 64-ball knock, to be unbeaten on 52 at lunch with England on 78 for four
But not for the first time, England wobbled after a break, as West Indies struck twice in the space of 23 minutes after the resumption.
First, England lost Bairstow to the second ball of the session without adding to his interval score, lbw on review to a full-length one from Roach which swung back.
Three overs later, left-hander Ben Stokes failed to survive a hostile spell from Gabriel and nicked a catch behind to wicketkeeper Shane Dowrich for 14.
In crisis on 93 for six, Moeen followed Bairstow in counter-attacking, as he posted an invaluable 85 for the seventh wicket with Foakes, to keep the Windies without further success in the session.
Moeen played with freedom, gathering eight fours and a six off 104 deliveries while Foakes was the more patient of the two in an 84-ball innings which contained four fours.
However, any hopes of continuing the rebuilding efforts perished quickly after the break, as England lost their last four wickets for 15 runs in the space of 10 overs.
Ali’s resistance ended in the fifth over following the resumption when he clipped a simple catch to Gabriel at mid-wicket off Roach, and Foakes added three to his tea time 32 before playing on to Gabriel, attempting to pull.
Sam Curran (6) and James Anderson (1) offered little resistance and then failed to find any magic deliveries when they bowled, as left-hander John Campbell (16 not out) and Kraigg Brathwaite (14 not out) safely navigated the 21 overs bowled their way.