Zak Crawley hits century as England give strong second-innings reply to West Indies

Zak Crawley hits century as England give strong second-innings reply to West Indies
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Zak Crawley hits century as England give strong second-innings reply to West Indies (Photo/IANS)

Highlights

Zak Crawley scored his second century in Test cricket, while skipper Joe Root hit an unbeaten 84 as England made a strong comeback in the second innings of the opening Test against the West Indies, notching up 217/1 at stumps on Day 4 at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium on Saturday.

North Sound (Antigua): Zak Crawley scored his second century in Test cricket, while skipper Joe Root hit an unbeaten 84 as England made a strong comeback in the second innings of the opening Test against the West Indies, notching up 217/1 at stumps on Day 4 at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium on Saturday.

England now lead the hosts by 153 runs, after the West Indies' first innings folded up for 375, a lead of 64 runs after the tourists had scored 311 in the first innings.

The 24-year-old Crawley helped England into a comfortable position by the time rain brought play to a close on the fourth day, with the opening batter unbeaten on 117 off 200 deliveries. The England top-order batter had gone 21 innings without reaching triple figures since his amazing 257 against Pakistan in 2020. Crawley had only reached 50 in two of those 21 innings, one of a number of English players to struggle in the top-three over recent years.

But, after seeing off a difficult opening period against the new ball, Crawley dug his heels and worked his way to a deserved ton, forging a 193-run partnership with Root that has given England an outside chance of putting pressure on West Indies on the final day.

The home side added just two runs to their overnight score, with Jack Leach picking up the 10th West Indian wicket off just the third ball of the day. Jayden Seales reviewed, but DRS upheld the original lbw decision as West Indies were all out for 375, with Nkrumah Bonner top-scoring with his 123.

The new ball immediately caused problems for the two England opening batters, with Kemar Roach extracting copious movement in his first spell. And the pressure told for Alex Lees, who succumbed to a second low score of the match, trapped in-front by Roach, as he had been in the first innings, to be sent back for 6 off 27 balls.

Two single-figure scores in his first two outings in Test cricket was not the start the 28-year-old would have dreamt of, but England have backed the Durham batter for at least the remainder of this three-match series in the Caribbean, and he will be given a chance to bounce back from what has been a tough debut in the opening Test.

Crawley and Root survived the remainder of a tricky first session, overhauling the West Indies' first-innings lead of 64 and reaching 72/1 at lunch. As the ball grew old and the threat subsided, Crawley and Root built a handsome score through the afternoon session, with the stand only interrupted by a scattering of rain showers that forced a handful of short rain delays.

Veerasammy Permaul thought he had burgled a wicket shortly before tea, appealing that a Crawley under-edge had bounced straight back up off his boot and into the hands of slip. But the soft signal was not out and the review supported the decision, with Crawley surviving.

And the youngster took advantage after the interval, bringing up his hundred with a flick into the leg side for two, reaching the milestone off 181 balls.

The run rate increased to well over three-an-over throughout the final session, but rain ensured that it was a stop-start affair in Antigua, with the players going on and off repeatedly before a heavy final shower brought the day to a close with England on 217/1.

England will resume on the final day 153 runs ahead, with Crawley unbeaten on 117 and Root 16-runs away from his 24th Test century.

Brief scores: England 311 and 217/1 (Zak Crawley 117 not out, Joe Root 84 not out) vs West Indies 375 (Kraigg Brathwaite 55, Nkrumah Bonner 123, Jason Holder 45; Jack Leach 2/79, Ben Stokes 2/42).

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