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Holder dents England as West Indies remain on top

Tea England 258 and 68 for 1 (Stoneman 34*, Westley 4*) trail West Indies 427 (S Hope 147, Brathwaite 134, Anderson 5-76) by 101. 

Jason Holder had a significant impact on the third day at Headingley, firstly with an important innings which help lift West Indies to a lead of 169 after they lost wickets to the first two balls of the day, and then with the key wicket of Alastair Cook to dent a solid reply from England.

Cook and Mark Stoneman had added 58 in reasonably comfortable fashion when Holder, who earlier made 43 in an eighth-wicket stand of 75 with Jermaine Blackwood, started to get the ball to shape away. After beating Cook twice in the over he found the edge despite the former England captain showing signs of bedding in for one of his long hauls.

On a surface starting to offer help for the spinners and the occasional sign of uneven bounce, West Indies’ advantage remained considerable at tea as they hunted their first victory in England since 2000. It also made an early blunder from England look ever costlier after James Anderson gave the day a dramatic start.

In the second over, with just four runs added to the total and England buoyed by the early wickets, Blackwood, on 21, clubbed a delivery from Stuart Broad straight to Moeen Ali at mid-on but the chance was shelled – a drop to rival Shannon Gabriel’s on the opening day off Ben Stokes. Unlike Gabriel’s miss, however, there was no quick reprieve as West Indies’ lead more than doubled.

Only four times have England overturned a bigger first-innings deficit to win a Test – once, famously, on this ground in 1981 – and their second innings began with familiar questions around the top order. Stoneman had played solidly on the opening day before a loose drive against Kemar Roach and started confidently here with three boundaries in four balls in Roach’s second over.

Roach and Gabriel, who suffered a return to his no-ball problems (and not all he delivered were called), were not as impressive with the new ball as they had been on the first day. Holder initially settled in at the high-70mph mark before finding a little more zip as the spell developed, while there was some threat from Roston Chase who was again used ahead of Devendra Bishoo.

England had managed the start to the day they desperately needed after toiling through the 246-run stand between Kraigg Brathwaite and Shai Hope on Saturday. Hope resumed on 147 and didn’t make it past the first delivery of the morning when he nibbled at one outside off from Anderson and feathered an edge to the keeper. One ball later, England thought they had hauled themselves back into the match when Shane Dowrich edged to second slip, giving Anderson his third five-wicket haul in as many innings at Headingley, where he had previously taken none in seven outings.

However, Moeen’s drop knocked the stuffing out of England – and agitated Broad who continued to be below his best – and while Blackwood would not have needed the second chance to be positive, seeing the catch go down may well have been the catalyst for Holder to put bat to ball as well.

Having reached 10 off 20 deliveries, Holder took three consecutive boundaries off Broad with increasing style: a swivel-pull behind square, a back-foot drive through the covers and then the best of the lot – a glorious cover drive which any batsman in the world would be happy to claim.

 

Blackwood, normally seen as the aggressor, didn’t find scoring as easy and found a variety of ways to add to his boundary count. There was a leading edge over Ben Stokes at gully (after his demerit point last night, Stokes needed to keep his thoughts to himself) and then another four to third man when he ducked a bouncer, but left his bat in the air, the ball flying off the toe end.

The lead was quickly approaching 150 – the mark that Anderson said last night would make the game very difficult to turn around for England – when both batsmen fell in the 40s. Holder tried to take the aerial route own the ground, a shot he had played well previously, but was well held by Moeen running back from mid-on to give Chris Woakes his first wicket. Redemption, of sorts, but considerable damage had been done.

In the next over, a superb piece of fielding ran out Blackwood. The ball trickled behind the keeper, Stokes raced after it from slip and hurled a strong throw to Bairstow, who gathered it low in front of the stumps. Gabriel should have gone second ball, but Stoneman missed a reasonably regulation chance at short leg off Moeen, and added a further useful 21 runs for the last wicket before he was lbw to Stokes.

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