England Once Again Fail To Find Knockout Blow In Hard-Fought West Indies Draw

West Indies skipper Kraigg Braithwaite dug deep to grind out an unbeaten 56 from 184 balls
09:19, 21 Mar 2022

England captain Joe Root stressed he saw plenty of “progression” from his side after a gruelling 2nd Test against the West Indies finished in a hard-fought draw. But for the second time in a row in this gripping series, Root’s side dominated for long periods, only to once again fail to land a knockout blow.

The West Indies deserve plenty of credit for the dedication and resolve they showed to make sure this three-match series will go to the wire later this month. However, this Test was all about England – and they finished five wickets short of a much-needed win in Barbados.

Root’s side had two sessions to try and bowl the hosts out on a pitch which had admittedly seen plenty of runs scored on the previous four days. But despite taking their fifth wicket just after tea on the final day, England left it too late to push for victory - and they were always going to be up against it in the final hour of the match.

West Indies skipper Kraigg Braithwaite dug deep to grind out an unbeaten 56 from 184 balls, thwarting England and giving his side hope of winning the series in Grenada (24-28 March).

Root, though, was staying positive, especially after his side’s dismal 4-0 Ashes whitewash against Australia this winter.

“We showed progression as a batting group,” praised Root.

“It was pleasing to see us make a substantial first innings total for the first time in a long time.”

Last week England dominated the opening Test of the series in Barbados – and Root added: “We picked up where we finished last week [with the bat].

“Hopefully we can replicate it again [in the final Test].

“I can't ask any more of the group. They were brilliant again. The attitude was excellent. 

“Concentration and ability to take those chances with some tired bodies around was a great effort, so a lot of good signs again throughout the whole game, so a really pleasing week. 

"In terms of where we've been this winter and where we're starting to see improvements, it is a really promising thing from us."

England fans will certainly hope so, especially having been starved of a Test win for such a long time. And if Root is going to keep his job, it could be argued he was to win to keep the faith of the selectors.

Defeat would be very hard to swallow, particularly on the back of what happened Down Under. But England can rightly take plenty of positives from the way they performed.

Root was again imperious with the bat, his fine 153 from 316 balls laid the platform for England to post an imposing 507-9 declared in their first innings.

The skipper batted for a staggering 491 minutes as the tourists proved then can shine with willow and, after a miserable Ashes series, post 400 plus to give their opponents plenty to ponder.

Vice captain Ben Stokes rediscovered his mojo with a breathtaking 120 from just 128 balls, an innings which saw the all-rounder smash the West Indies to all corners of Bridgetown’s Kensington Oval.

Stokes hit 11 fours and blasted six sixes to put England in a dominant position, while prospect Dan Lawrence chipped in with a fine 91 and all-rounder Chris Woakes an unbeaten 41. In reply the West Indies fought in their innings of 411 all out. Brathwaite’s painstaking 160 from 489 balls took time out of the game and, most importantly, prevented England ever forcing the follow-on.

Jermaine Blackwood weighed in with a superb 102 as the pair shared in a courageous fourth-wicket stand of 183 to frustrate England.

England had a welcome lead of 96 and wasted no time in chasing runs quickly to see if they could force victory on the final day.

Opener Zak Crawley’s 40, a cool cameo of 41 from 39 balls from the selfless Lawrence, as well as a quick 29 from Jonny Bairstow saw England declare on 185-6 dec from a ball short of 40 overs.

That left West Indies needing 281 to win, while England had 65 overs to bowl them out.

Spinner Jack Leach impressed with 3-36 from 25 overs, adding to his three first innings’ scalps.

Amazingly he bowled an incredible 94.5 overs in the match, the most an England bowler has managed in a Test since 1962. But Root’s charges didn’t have enough time to force victory as the West Indies closed on 135-5 to set-up an enthralling end to this Caribbean series.

It’s worth noting that the West Indies have only lost Test series at home to England in the last 54 years. Is that about to change?

"If we keep putting ourselves in these positions it won't be long before we see ourselves winning a Test here,” said Root.

Scorecard: 

England 507-9 dec (Root 153, Stokes 120, Lawrence 91, Woakes 41 not out, Permual 3-126)

West Indies 411 all out (Brathwaite 160, Blackwood 102, Brooks 39, Leach 3-118)

England 185-6 dec (Lawrence 41, Crawley 40)

West Indies 135-5 (Brathwaite 56 not out, Leach 3-36).

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