Captain Alastair Cook scored his first century in two years to lead England out of early trouble against the West Indies on the first day of the third and final Test at Kensington Oval on Friday.
His dismissal for 105, caught by wicketkeeper Denesh Ramdin from off-spinner Marlon Samuels, came four balls before the scheduled close and following that of Ben Stokes seven runs earlier. It left England on 240 for seven at the end and shifted the balance back to the home team.
England lead the series 1-0 following its nine-wicket victory in the second Test in Grenada last week.
Cook passed his elusive landmark with his 12th boundary, an on-drive off fast bowler Shannon Gabriel from his 259th ball. It was his 26th Test hundred, and his first since May 2013 against New Zealand at Leeds.
His jubilation was matched by an estimated 6,000 traveling England supporters in the packed stands. When he edged Samuels to Ramdin with shadows stretching across the field, his disappointment was in complete contrast.
After Cook won the toss and chose to bat on a good pitch on a sunny day, England stuttered to 38 for three in the first 18 overs. Opener Jonathan Trott was caught by Veerasammy Permaul off a delivery by Gabriel for his third 0 in the series, while Gary Ballance and Ian Bell fell to towering fast bowler Jason Holder.
Cook and second Test century-maker Joe Root added 53 either side of lunch but Root’s dismissal for 33, caught by Ramdin off left-arm spinner, restored the home team’s early advantage.
Cook and fellow left-hander Moeen Ali went on to build an England recovery with a solid partnership of 98. However, Moeen’s second run out in successive innings for a confident 58 after a six and eight fours, hesitating on Cook’s call for a single on a shot to backward point, checked England once more.
Cook put on a further 44 for the sixth wicket with Stokes but the loss their wickets lifted the West Indies on a fluctuating day.
England kept its winning XI from the second Test.
West Indies brought back fast bowler Jerome Taylor, fit again after a sore shoulder kept him out of the second Test, for Kemar Roach, and gave a first Test cap to batsman Shai Hope instead of opener Devon Smith.
Permaul was picked as leg-spinner to replace Davendra Bishoo, who sustained a blistered finger on his bowling hand after sending down 59 overs in the second Test.
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