|Second Test, Kensington Oval, Barbados (day two):|
|England 507-Dec 9: Root 153, Stokes 120, Lawrence 91; Permaul 3-126|
|West Indies 71-1: Brathwaite 28*, Brooks 31*|
|West Indies trail by 436 runs|
Ben Stokes’ swashbuckling century lit up day two of the second Test between England and West Indies in Barbados.
Captain Joe Root progressed to 153 while Stokes bullied the West Indies bowling to hit 120 from 128 balls in England’s 507-9 declared.
Stokes scored 89 runs in the morning session alone, dominating a century stand with Root, before reaching his 11th Test to shortly after lunch.
The all-rounder hit 11 fours and six powerful sixes before he was eventually caught trying to hit part-time spinner Kraigg Brathwaite over the ropes again.
After England declared in the final session, having passed 500 for the first time in 13 months, debutant seamer Matthew Fisher had John Campbell caught behind with his second delivery in international cricket.
But Brathwaite, who ended unbeaten on 28, and Shamarh Brooks, with 31 not out, saw West Indies through to 71-1 at the close.
That still leaves the hosts 436 runs behind, with England in command on a good batting pitch, but one that is starting to offer support to the spinners.
Stokes stars in Barbados
Root achieved yet another milestone and Fisher made a fine start to his Test career but the day will be remembered for Stokes’ innings that was the 30-year-old at his best.
He got off the mark with a stunning on-drive to his 10th ball, followed that with two imperious shots through the off-side and never looked back.
It had been 18 months since Stokes has reached three figures for England, a period in which he has been injured and took an extended break for his mental health. Here he built on England’s solid platform on day one to move them into a position from which they are, at worst, highly unlikely to lose.
During the second hour of the day, Stokes’ unfurled brutal shots to almost every ball. He hit reverse sweeps off left-arm spinner Veerasammy Permaul and crashed both spin and seam down the ground.
Permaul, West Indies’ senior spinner, had to be taken out of the attack, while pace bowler Alzarri Joseph was another to suffer. Stokes hit him for 18 in one over, including a towering six over long-on which took the all-rounder beyond 5,000 Test runs.
His scoring slowed a little after Root fell lbw to Kemar Roach, having reached his 12th score of 150 or more in Tests. Even so, Stokes’ century was rarely in doubt, with hardly a chance offered. His demise of him only came when he tried to hit Brathwaite for a third consecutive six and was caught at long-off.
That left England 424-6, but a steady stand of 75 between Chris Woakes, who made 41, and Ben Foakes, who added 33, took the tourists to a position from which they could declare.
Fisher makes impression
On his first international appearance, 24-year-old Fisher shared the new ball with veteran Chris Woakes.
His first ball was hit to the deep point boundary, his second, clocked at 86mph, tempted Campbell to nibble outside off and edge through to wicketkeeper Foakes for four.
It resulted in heart-warming celebrations from Fisher on the field and louder festivities among the thousands of England fans in the stands.
Fisher bowled accurately throughout his five overs with a steady action and could have had another wicket, but a Brooks edge dropped agonizingly short of Zak Crawley at slip.
Lancashire’s Saqib Mahmood, England’s other bowling debutant, was held back until the 18th over but made a similarly tidy start.
Slow left-armer Jack Leach, meanwhile, offered the greatest threat. He thought he had removed Brathwaite lbw on 14, but the West Indies captain successfully overturned the decision, having edged the ball.
Those were the only real alarms for West Indies, who ultimately reached the close in relative comfort.
That suggests England still have a plenty of work to do to win but there are signs of turn and uneven bounce that will aid their cause over the final three days.
More to follow
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