HOLDING THE ADVANTAGE
SIX-WICKET WINDIES SKIPPER RIPS THROUGH ENGLAND
WEST Indies captain Jason Holder landed the first significant blow in the battle of the star all-rounders, claiming career-best figures of six for 42 to put Ben Stokes’ England under pressure in the first Test.
With regular England captain Joe Root watching from home with his new baby Isabella, the home side were bowled out for 204 in tricky conditions on day two that must have made Stokes question the wisdom of his decision to bat first at the Ageas Bowl.
While the heavy grey clouds and permanent floodlights did not help, Holder and Shannon Gabriel, who took four for 62, exploited them wonderfully before the tourists reached 57 for one when bad light stopped play.
A rain-affected start to the series meant England resumed on 35 for one and Gabriel, who claimed the only success of day one, gave the Windies a perfect start with two more early breakthroughs.
His first was Joe Denly, who was clean-bowled between bat and pad, and he followed up by seeing off Rory Burns leg before. Umpire Richard Kettleborough rejected the initial appeal but DRS settled the matter – the first of five decisions overturned by the West Indies.
From there on, it was all about Holder, who has been managing an ankle injury since arriving from the Caribbean but was fit enough to turn in his sixth five-for in the past ten Tests. He opened his account with Zak Crawley, again lbw by DRS and then Ollie Pope, caught for 12.
England’s lunch score of 106 for
five would have been worse had Kemar Roach held a tough chance at fine leg off Stokes’ top edge but the ball slipped loose. For a spell after lunch that looked to be a costly miss, as Stokes and Jos Buttler made a dashing stand of 67.
There was a second life for Stokes on 32 – put down by Shamarh Brooks at short cover – but Holder ended the counter-attack, Stokes nicking behind for 43. Just seven balls later, Buttler (35) was brilliantly held by Dowrich.
He made it five when Jofra Archer was lbw for a duck, and Mark Wood was caught at gully to make it six. Dom Bess (31no) led a useful last-wicket stand of 30 before Gabriel sent James Anderson packing.
The West Indies’ post-tea response was split in two, a seven-over burst before bad light and a second lasting 12.3 overs. James Anderson took the only wicket to fall as John Campbell fell lbw for 28.
Crucial blow: Holder celebrates the wicket of fellow all-rounder Stokes (main picture) on his way to a six-wicket haul at the Ageas Bowl