West Indies fast bowler Jason Holder (left) celebrating one of his two wickets. (Picture courtesy Windies Media/Randy Brooks of Brooks LaTouche Photography.)
WEST INDIES claimed three wickets in the final session to eek out a slight advantage over England on the first day of the third and final Test at Kensington Oval today.
On a day of fluctuating fortunes, England closed on 240 for seven on the back of a battling century from captain Alastair Cook.
The Caribbean side made early inroads, reducing England to 38 for three in the morning session but Cook’s first Test century in two years and the 100th at Kensington Oval led a fightback over the next two sessions.
In front of a crowd of almost 12,000 that included a sizeable portion of visitors, West Indies took the early initiative but Cook dropped anchor before he was dismissed for 105 with the second ball of the day’s final over.
Cook diligently applied himself for more than six hours before edging an intended cut from off-spinner Marlon Samuels into the gloves of wicketkeeper Denesh Ramdin. It was the 26th Test hundred for the 30-year-old left-hander who faced 266 balls and struck 12 fours.
Pacers Jason Holder and Shannon Gabriel combined to put England under pressure at the start of the day before Cook featured in three useful partnerships to bring the match back on even keel.
Gabriel first accounted for Jonathan Trott (0) before Holder removed Gary Ballance (18) and Ian Bell (0) but Cook found support from Joe Root (33), Moeen Ali (58) and Ben Stokes (22) to keep the home team at bay.
As England headed towards the close at 233 for five, they would have been contended but the dismissals of Stokes and Cook in the final half-hour made West Indies the happier team at stumps.
Holder ended the day with two for 34 in 16 overs, while Gabriel took two for 36 in 12 overs.
West Indies made three changes to the team that lost the second Test at the Grenada National Stadium.
They handed a Test debut to 21-year-old Barbados batsman Shai Hope and also brought in left-arm spinner Veerasammy Permaul and pacer Jerome Taylor. The three players to sit out were opener Devon Smith, injured leg-spinner Devendra Bishoo and pacer Kemar Roach. (HG)