A combination of poor England bowling and determined West Indian batting helped the tourists take a first innings lead of 114 on day three at the Ageas Bowl. Relatively subdued with the ball, England were lucky not to have conceded a larger lead, having been saved by captain Ben Stokes and the ever brilliant Jimmy Anderson as the duo sparked a late West Indian collapse, after the visitors were impressive during the day's early sessions. At close, England were 15-0, having reduced the deficit to 99.
Having resumed on 57-1, the West Indian batting line-up combined strong defensive technique and punishing poor deliveries, making 318 all out. Despite Kraigg Brathwaite and Shai Hope surviving the first hour (including a Jofra Archer wicket off a no ball), Hope fell to Dom Bess soon after, who bowled impressively throughout the day. Despite having no real turn, he varied his line successfully and found good drift. It was this that did for Hope, who edged a drive to slip in Bess' fourth over, falling for 16.
Brathwaite was joined by Shamarh Brooks, who started impressively, driving Bess for consecutive fours through the covers. After a quick partnership of 38, England removed Brathwaite, a big wicket, as he was trapped lbw by the hard-working Ben Stokes for 65. Although close on review, it was a good knock from the opener. His dismissal could have been the key breakthrough for England five overs before lunch, given he looked at ease on a relatively slow pitch. Yet England struggled to keep momentum with the ball.
After lunch, quick wickets were needed-but Brooks continued to play nicely. Anderson, though, found a hint of reverse, and a small edge went through to Jos Buttler; Brooks removed for 39, despite looking good. This brought Jermaine Blackwood to the crease. He lasted just 22 balls, before drilling Bess to Anderson at mid-off, leaving the West Indies 186-5. England had a decent position at this stage, and although the lead was just 18, they were not looking at a huge first innings deficit. However, the resistance of Roston Chase and Shane Dowrich took the day away from the hosts.
The pair put on 81 in nearly 30 overs, taking the West Indies into the lead and a strong position. Dowrich, who averages 40 since the start of 2018, attacked poor balls successfully-of which England bowled too many. At the other end, Chase resisted impressively, in a lesson for England on how to play defensively. The pair were only separated by the new ball, with which Archer bowled poorly, but eventually Anderson found some luck, trapping Chase in front for 47 off 142. By this stage, England had already leaked runs, and trailed by 63, with Jason Holder arriving at the crease.
However, Stokes brought himself on, and Holder pulled his opposite number to Archer at deep-backward square-leg; the Windies skipper falling for just 5. Dowrich, having gone to 50, watched on as Alzarri Joseph scored some fluky runs against Stokes before being bowled. It was Dowrich who fall next, strangled down the legside off Stokes as well, dismissed for a very good 61. The last pair managed just five runs, before Mark Wood bowled Shannon Gabriel.
Despite this late fightback, England were disappointing with the ball. While Anderson and Bess bowled spells that offered some pressure, Wood and Archer did not challenge the batsmen enough. Given their obvious pace, they did bowl some impressive bouncers, but were unable to regularly challenge the batsmen. Combined figures of 1-135 in 44 overs exemplify the lack of chances they created, and England will surely be ruing the non-selection of Stuart Broad, who spoke of his frustration on Sky this morning. The few positives for England were Bess' work with the ball, and Anderson bowling at his usual level of excellence, with figures of 3-62 in 25 overs, including 11 maidens. The bowling fightback was also decent, as the West Indies lost their last five wickets for just 51. Stokes' usual determination was rewarded, as he returned figures of 4-49. This took him to 151 test wickets, and he became the second fastest cricket to pass 4,000 runs and 150 wickets, doing so in just 64 tests, with only the great Sir Garry Sobers doing so quicker, and in just one test less.
This gave England a maximum of 14 overs to face in a difficult end to the day. Gabriel bowled beautifully to Rory Burns, who struggled early on. He broke his shackles with a lovely on-drive off a rare over-pitched Gabriel delivery. It was the only good aggressive shot in the eventual 10 overs England faced, with the other boundary being a Burns leading edge. Dom Sibley, who survived some interesting leaves, would have been relived to make it to close. Defensively solid, and despite nervy moments, England made it to close, finishing 15-0, and 99 behind. The West Indies in the best position but a fourth innings chase will be interesting, as this test hots up.
Find the day's scorecard here