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Da Silva leads West Indies fightback in series decider against England

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St George’s (Grenada), March 26 (IANS) Joshua Da Silva reached a hard-earned half-century to help hosts West Indies take a 28-run lead with two wickets in hand at the end of the second day of the third Test against England.

With Da Silva batting on 54 off 152 balls, with Kemar Roach on 25 at stumps as West Indies reached 232/8 after restricting England to 204 in their first innings on a topsy-turvy second day on Friday.

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West Indies had looked in serious trouble after losing six wickets for 45 runs on either side of lunch, with Chris Woakes picking up three in an excellent spell.

But, just as England had done on day one, the West Indies tail bailed out the recognised batters, as Kyle Mayers (28), Alzarri Joseph (28), Roach and Da Silva eked out every run in the second half of the day to overhaul the tourists’ first-innings total.

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England’s opening spell on the morning of day two offered plenty of run-scoring opportunities for the West Indian openers, as the seam attack struggled to find their line, with Craig Overton and Woakes particularly wayward first up.

The opening pair built a 50-run stand before Ben Stokes struck, claiming the crucial wicket of Barbados-hero Kraigg Brathwaite. A skiddy ball on the back of a length kept low and struck Brathwaite so straight in-front that the captain turned and walked off with England barely needing to muster an appeal, the ICC reported on its official website.

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The loss of the skipper for 17 put West Indies in a position they had not been in since Antigua, requiring the remainder of the top order to build a platform. And they were not able to do so, with Shamarh Brooks (13) and John Campbell (35) both dismissed before lunch to Saqib Mahmood and Overton respectively.

Woakes, who had struggled to make an impact in his role as leader of the attack on tour, found a hot-streak after lunch as the ball grew softer, bouncing out Nkrumah Bonner (4) and Jason Holder (0) in the same over to leave West Indies reeling on 82/5. And Woakes was in the wickets again when he trapped Jermaine Blackwood in front for 18.

But West Indies’ team selection for this decisive third Test had seen Kyle Mayers added as a batting all-rounder to strengthen the order, and he partially fulfilled his role with a sprightly 28 to take the home side into triple figures as Da Silva cast anchor at the other end.

The first day in Grenada had seen England’s lower-order bail the batters out with a fine rearguard effort, and the same scenario unfolded on day two, as Da Silva and Alzarri Joseph picked up where Mayers had left off to inch towards first-innings parity.

Joseph was removed for a fine 28 by an Overton bumper, ending a 49-run partnership and giving England hope of emerging with a first-innings lead.

But Roach bedded in alongside Da Silva through the evening session as they built the biggest partnership of the innings for the ninth wicket, with both unbeaten at the close.

Brief scores: England 204 v West Indies 232/8 in 86 overs (Joshua Da Silva 54*, Kemar Roach 25*, John Campbell 35; Chris Woakes 3/48, Craig Overton 2/71, Ben Stokes 2/40).

IANS

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