England’s dogged perseverance paid off in two gritty sessions of play with the West Indies restricted to 155 for four in reply to the tourists’ first innings total of 399 at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in Antigua on Tuesday.
Despite the capitulation of their lower-order in the morning’s play when only 58 runs were added to an already formidable overnight position of 341 for five, the English bowlers worked hard for their reward on an unresponsive pitch and should have had more success in the final hour to claim a potentially decisive advantage.
Jermaine Blackwood, who resumes on the third morning in partnership with the evergreen Shivnarine Chanderpaul, edged a lifting delivery from Ben Stokes to Alastair Cook at a wide first slip position. However the batsman, on 21 at the time, was called back to the crease when television replays showed clearly that the all-rounder had delivered a no-ball.
Chastened by the let-off, the attacking right-hander, who got off the mark by hoisting his second delivery off spinner James Tredwell for six over long-off, crawled into a defensive shell to be unbeaten on 30 at the close.
Chanderpaul, whose often ultra-defensive occupation of the crease has defined most of his 21 years at international level, was at his most phlegmatic in getting to 29 off 98 deliveries by the end of the day.
Their fifth-wicket partnership of 56 has been vital to keeping the West Indies in with a fighting chance as they came together with the home side listing dangerously at 99 for four half-an-hour into the final session.
Stuart Broad broke a promising 47-run third-wicket stand between Kraigg Brathwaite and Marlon Samuels by having Samuels caught at the wicket — Jos Buttler’s third dismissal of the innings — for 33.
Chris Jordan then held a superb catch at slip, diving low to his right to get rid of the obdurate Brathwaite off Tredwell. His knock of 39 occupied 163 minutes.
Earlier, Brathwaite’s opening partner Devon Smith became James Anderson’s 381st Test wicket, touching a delivery through to Buttler to depart for 11. In his 100th match at this level, the veteran seamer needs three more scalps to become the leading wicket-taker in Test history for England.
Jordan, who had featured in a 38-run last-wicket partnership with Anderson in the morning, then disposed of Darren Bravo for just ten, the left-hander caught in two minds and offering a simple catch to the wicketkeeper.
Pacer Kemar Roach led the improved effort for the home side with the ball at the start of the day, taking the wickets of Buttler and Broad to finish with the best innings figures of four for 94 as England, resuming at the overnight position of 341 for five, folded just 20 minutes from the lunch interval.
At one point they lost four wickets for just four runs before Jordan and Anderson briefly frustrated the home side, necessitating the introduction of part-time spinner Samuels to end the innings with the wicket of Anderson.
English aspirations of a first innings total well beyond the 400-run mark evaporated in the early minutes of the day’s play when the hard-hitting Ben Stokes guided a catch to Jason Holder at gully off Jerome Taylor after adding only another eight runs to his overnight score of 71.
His departure was the trigger for the slide with Holder removing nightwatchman Tredwell via Bravo’s third catch of the innings at first slip.
Roach then joined in the rout as Buttler and Broad both failed to score, the usually attacking wicketkeeper-batsman being restrained for 21 deliveries before edging a delivery to his West Indies counterpart Ramdin while the fast bowler slashed a wide delivery unerringly to Blackwood at backward-point.
Barbados-born Jordan lived up to his all-rounder’s reputation in stroking four fours but was actually upstaged by Anderson for shot-making as the tailender’s 20 runs came off five boundaries.