Joe Root steadies England as West Indies show some spirit

August 27 2017, 8.00pmUpdated: August 29 2017, 12.34pm
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Captain Joe Root was left to lead the rearguard as England traded blows with the West Indies in a captivating second Test that could go either way at Headingley.

England, absorbing a 169-run first-innings deficit, finished day three two runs ahead on 171 for three, with Root bearing the all-too familiar burden of holding up a fragile top order.

The tourists would have been heavy favourites had Kyle Hope held Root on 10 at gully, but he took advantage of the latest fielding gaffe in a match groaning with them, reaching 45 not out by close of play.

Tweet of the day

– Former Surrey and Zimbabwe coach Alan Butcher enjoys the contest.

Stat of the day

0: Number of times the West Indies have lost a Test having established a first-innings lead of 150 or more, in a sample size of 116.

Jimmy’s loving Leeds (finally)

Headingley was once considered an unhappy hunting ground for England’s record wicket-taker – and Lancashire Roses rival – James Anderson. His first seven Tests at on Yorkshire territory yielded just 19 wickets at an average south of 40 but he has warmed to the venue of late. He has now taken three consecutive five-fors here, doing so in both innings against Sri Lanka last summer and adding five for 76 today.

Stoneman lays a foundation

England have been scrambling for an opening partner for Alastair Cook for five years now, going through 11 candidates before landing on Surrey’s Mark Stoneman. It is too early to deem him the solution, particularly as several of his predecessors have shone early then faded.

But his 52 was the first half-century by an England opener other than Cook this summer and, in carrying on after a dislocated little finger, he showed the kind of resolve that may be required during the Ashes this winter. One more solid showing at Lord’s might be enough to cement his slot Down Under.

All and sundries

West Indies will hope they can reduce the number of extras they concede
West Indies will hope they can reduce the number of extras they concede (Nigel French/PA)

In a match that could be settled by the finest of margins, the Caribbean side could live to regret their donation of extras. After giving away 11 in the first innings they have already offered another 22 in the second, including five no-balls.

What’s next?

Thrillingly, and unusally in a summer of one-sided matches, it is genuinely hard to know. Both teams will take the field on day four knowing a couple of big performances could win them the game.

Root is England’s best hope of setting a hefty chase but the hitting power of Ben Stokes, Jonny Bairstow and Moeen Ali is an ace up the sleeve. The West Indies need to conjure a major spell from Shannon Gabriel or Kemar Roach then hold their nerve in what promises to be a nervy fourth innings.

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