England produced a remarkable victory in the second Test after a seemingly moribund contest was brought to life by the brilliance of James Anderson and the seemingly ineradicable flaws in West Indies’ game. Anderson was the inspiration during a helter-skelter morning session in which England ripped out six wickets and Alastair Cook was there at the end to complete a run chase that was as sedate as it would have seemed unlikely 24 hours earlier.
West Indies lost 8 for 83 in 30.4 overs either side of lunch, surrendering a position of relative security with indecent haste and undoing four days of hard work. England, who seemed to have been blunted on the fourth evening as Kraigg Brathwaite compiled a determined century, seized the moment with alacrity after Anderson took three quick wickets with the new ball.
Victory, one reminiscent of their one-session mugging of Sri Lanka at Cardiff in 2011, put England 1-0 up in the series. The prospect seemed a distant one at the start of the day, with West Indies having erased their 165-run first-innings deficit only two down. There was little in the pitch to help England’s bowlers and it was appropriate that Anderson was the catalyst, as he was during their last overseas Test victory, at Kolkata in 2012.
West Indies did remove Jonathan Trott for his second duck of the series, bowled off an inside edge, but they twice put down Gary Ballance, the second time with 17 required. They also lost Jason Holder to injury, a nasty-looking roll of the ankle that could affect his participation in the third Test.
There was little else in the way of drama as Cook and Ballance put on an unbroken three-figure stand, both making half-centuries. Ballance also scored his 1000th Test run, in his 17th innings, putting him joint-ninth on the list. Cook’s fifty, meanwhile, was his fifth in eight Test innings – given how unexpectedly well his day had gone, he might have wished for a few more runs to chase and the possibility of that elusive hundred.
The emotions of both sides underwent a complete turnaround in little more than three hours as a Test that had moved sluggishly through four days suddenly went into fast-forward. Anderson was involved in all six wickets to fall in the morning, taking three with the new ball to go with a couple of catches and a superb run-out, as West Indies toppled from the relatively security of 224 for 2 to a perilous 286 for 8.
The dismissal of Kemar Roach, chipping Moeen Ali to mid-on five minutes before the lunch break, was a sign of the fallibility gene that has become such a problem for the health of West Indies’ cricket. When they were eventually all out for 307 around 40 minutes into the afternoon session, Moeen taking the last two wickets in three balls, it left England with almost 60 overs in which to chase 143.
What a difference half a day makes. With the memory of Antigua still fresh, and in light of the poise shown by Brathwaite here, England took the field looking a little weary. Even the long-life batteries of Root must have been tested and, as he opened the bowling and aimed his offbreaks into the rough outside leg stump, it was easy to conclude that the lights had gone out on the contest.
But as in the first innings, the arrival of the second new ball sparked a surge from England’s bowlers, Anderson in particular. Stuart Broad provided encouragement when he could have had Brathwaite lbw, caught at slip or caught at short leg within his first five balls; but the West Indies opener was definitively out to the next delivery he faced, fending a bouncer from Anderson that straightened its line as he tried to turn the ball leg side only to be taken at gully.
Brathwaite’s 116 had been worth a whole pile of nutmeg, the valuable spice that is one of Grenada’s main exports, but West Indies once again set about squandering their riches. They were helped on their way by Anderson, who prised out the two big middle-order wickets of Marlon Samuels and Shivnarine Chanderpaul during a devastating spell of 3 for 1 in 23 balls.
Chanderpaul’s dismissal owed plenty to the reactions of Cook, who grasped a rebound from second slip at the second attempt. Ian Bell should have taken the chance, as Chanderpaul fished at one angled across him but Cook’s desperate, one-handed grab showed England would not let go of this match easily.
If England were going to take their chances they still needed West Indies to provide them and Samuels was the next to oblige. Having faced more than 100 deliveries, he was guilty of a moment’s indecision to an Anderson delivery outside off and steered it through to Jos Buttler as he tried to withdraw the bat. Anderson then plucked a catch above his head as Jermaine Blackwood made a misguided attempt to clear mid-off.
The game was shaping itself irresistibly around England’s attack leader and, even after completing an eight-over spell, he was central to West Indies losing a fifth wicket. Ballance produced a fabulous attempt to catch an uppish drive from Denesh Ramdin one-handed at extra cover but could only get fingertips to the ball. England were still contemplating the missed chance when Anderson scooped it up at mid-off and rifled in a direct hit at the non-striker’s end, with Holder well out of his ground.
West Indies’ hopes of staving off England now rested on their captain, Ramdin, who had made the most of some fortune in battling his way to the interval. He might have been taken at gully, when Anderson flogged something extra from the pitch to take the shoulder of the bat but a leaping Root could not quite grasp the chance. He also inside-edged Chris Jordan past his stumps and, in the final over before lunch, survived a thin toe end off Moeen that bounced out of Buttler’s gloves.
He was eventually out after missing a full toss from Moeen to be struck on the boot in front of middle stump. Ramdin reviewed but, for him and for West Indies, the writing was on the wall.
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