England forced to settle for a draw as West Indies captain Brathwaite holds firm
It was a case of kneesy does it once again for the West Indies as they kept England and their close fielders at bay to draw the second Test.
Joe Root ’s side might have come closer than they did in Antigua to forcing a result, but thanks to incredible powers of concentration from Kraigg Brathwaite, they still struggled to come close enough. With Jack Leach sending down yet more and more balls to add to his 419 from the first innings to take his tally to 94.5 overs, England’s fielders were gathered around the bat waiting to pounce on anything that might be considered a catch.
And both Jonny Bairstow and Root were placed under helmets and fielding on their knees in order to get even closer than they normally would. It was a ploy used by current batting coach Marcus Trescothick when he was still playing for Somerset and Leach was bowling at Taunton.
And it briefly worked too, when Bairstow caught Jermaine Blackwood for 27 with 28 overs still to go to claim the final six wickets. But at the other end stood Windies captain Kraigg Brathwaite who simply picked up where he left off in the first innings to lead by example and present the broadest of bats and still be there to receive a warm handshake from Root at the close with his team 135-5.
When he had faced his 111th ball he had officially faced more balls in a single Test match than any Windies player before him where records exist. Brian Lara and Sir Garry Sobers were knocked down into second and third place respectively as Brathwaite stood firm in the face of English pressure.
England were pushing as hard as they could to try and force a result having first set a reasonable target to defend, while giving themselves enough time to bowl the Windies out. In Antigua the equation read 286 to win from 71 overs, while a final morning thrash provided a chase of 282 to win from 65 overs here.
Similar scenarios, but of course this time England had a full attack to try and secure the victory plus the bonus off spin of Dan Lawrence, while Mark Wood was injured last time round. As one would expect on day five, spinner Leach was the man England were hoping would get most out of the conditions.
It is a pressure that Leach has to relish, but there has to be a question over his overall quality when he can send down that many overs on a pitch that is turning, and only claim three wickets in the second innings. He opened up the account by removing John Campbell with one that turned to take the glove and was well held at short leg.
But it was Saqib Mahmood who fired up to great effect to take two quick wickets with Shamarh Brooks and Nkrumah Bonner both edging behind and being caught at slip. Mahmood looks like he has the ability to be a hot streak bowler for England and was their most threatening seamer, but he too was thwarted by the Brathwaite and the pitch.
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