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England in sight of series levelling victory

England were eyeing a series-levelling victory,after setting West Indies 503 to win the third Test. WI were 143/3 at stumps.

Written by Agencies | St John's,antigua | Published: February 19, 2009 9:51:35 am

England were eyeing a series-levelling victory,after setting West Indies 503 to win the third Test and at stumps on the fourth day needed seven wickets on the final day to secure the win.

England declared their second innings on 221 for eight about an hour after the scheduled tea break,and then restricted West Indies to 143 for three in their second innings when stumps were drawn on Wednesday.

Alastair Cook hit the top score of 58 in the England second innings,Paul Collingwood made 34,Kevin Pietersen got 33 as England batted themselves into an impregnable position.

For West Indies,Daren Powell collected two wickets for 33 runs from seven overs,Ryan Hinds took two for 45 from 11 overs,and Sulieman Benn two for 58 from 13 overs.

England then had to wait an hour and 15 minutes either side of tea before they claimed their first wicket,and then took two more to leave West Indies wobbly on 96 for three.

But the visitors then met stern resistance from Ramnaresh Sarwan and Shivnarine Chanderpaul,two of the West Indies’ most recognised batsmen,in the final hour.

Sarwan,not out on 47,and Chanderpaul,not out on 19,added 47 – unbroken – for the fourth wicket and will carry the burden of responsibility of saving the test.

England’s progress was slowed,when West Indies captain Chris Gayle and Devon Smith had carried their side to tea on 32 without loss and then proceeded to take their opening stand over the 50 mark before the visitors broke it.

Steve Harmison had Smith adjudged lbw for 21,and this started the shaky period for West Indies. Graeme Swann had Gayle also lbw for 46 sweeping across the line of a well-pitched delivery,and Stuart Broad deceived Ryan Hinds with a slower delivery and had him caught at mid-on for six essaying a firm drive.

But he was England’s final success for the day,as Chanderpaul joined Sarwan and batted through until the close with little or no alarms.

Earlier,Cook had hit his second half-century of the match to help England beef-up their lead,as they reached 135 for three at the interval.

Cook turned his 92nd ball from Benn behind square for a single to reach the landmark,as England made steady,if not rapid progress before lunch,after they continued from their overnight total of 31 for one.

Cook had been allied with James Anderson and they frustrated West Indies for the first hour in a stand of 46 for the second.

But Anderson was dismissed on the stroke of the drinks break,when he was caught behind for 20 off Powell.

England continued to chase quick runs,and Owais Shah struck Powell for a wonderful six over mid-wicket before the same bowler spectacularly bowled him middle-stump for 14 to leave the visitors on 97 for three.

After lunch,England suffered an early setback in their hunt for quick runs,when Cook was caught at slip off Hinds’ modest left-arm spin gloving a delivery that bounced awkwardly.

But Paul Collingwood joined Kevin Pietersen and they raised the tempo in a stand of 44 for the fifth wicket with a mixture of aggressive strokes and well-judged runs.

Pietersen improvised with a number of reverse sweeps and cross-batted strokes,but he tried one too many,and was caught behind to give Benn,one of the heroes of West Indies victory in the first Test,his first wicket in his 54th over of the match.

England then lost four wickets for 17 runs in the space of 26 balls before two sixes – one apiece to Matt Prior and Harmison – off Hinds sealed the 500-run lead and the declaration.

England trail 0-1 in the series which now comprises five Tests,following an innings and 23-run defeat in the opening Test at Kingston inside four days.

The other two Tests in the series take place at Kensington Oval in Barbados from February 26 to March 2,and Queen’s Park Oval in Trinidad from March 6 to 10.

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