West Indian batting hands England the initiative

England's Chris Jordan celebrates dismissing West Indies batsman Devon Smith. Picture: AFP/Getty
England's Chris Jordan celebrates dismissing West Indies batsman Devon Smith. Picture: AFP/Getty
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England took advantage of some loose West Indian batting to pick up four wickets by tea on the first day of the second Test.

Captain Alastair Cook put the hosts into bat at the National 
Stadium in Grenada, but morning rain and damp, humid conditions did not provide the lavish assistance he might have hoped for.

Instead, England largely 
focused on the denial of runs and cashing in on errors of judgment.

James Anderson’s venomous inswinger to see off Kraigg Brathwaite livened things up after rain delayed the start by an hour and 45 minutes, but Devon Smith, Darren Bravo and Shivnarine Chanderpaul all played shots to regret.

After 43 overs the hosts were 102 for four, with Marlon Samuels (30 not out) rebuilding alongside first Test centurion Jermaine Blackwood.

Despite his bowlers churning out 130 overs in the fourth innings of the drawn first Test, Cook pressed them back into action after being persuaded by the early morning conditions.

Rain meant just 15 overs were possible before lunch, but England saw off both openers in that time.

Anderson struck with the first ball of his second over, Brathwaite overbalancing as it hooped through the air and clattered leg stump.

Anderson, having surpassed Sir Ian Botham as the country’s leading Test wicket-taker in Antigua, came close to a second when Bravo saw a thick edge die just in front of Ben Stokes.

But at the other end Stuart Broad was making poor use of the new ball.

He may have conceded just eight runs from five overs, but bowled too short to cause concern.

His replacement, Chris Jordan, found better lengths and picked off local boy Devon Smith just before the interval.

Smith, having become the first Grenadian to play Test cricket on the island, saw a sharp chance dropped at leg-slip by Gary Ballance and then fell for 15 just two balls later.

He appeared to be in two minds about whether he had nicked a wide one from Jordan, but curiously declined to review when he was given out.

The absence of HotSpot technology may have contributed to that, but he would not have had the problem had he flailed at one that could easily have been left.

The trail went cold after play restarted, Samuels taking 21 balls to get off nought as he declined England’s tempters outside off.

He and Bravo ate up almost 15 overs for the addition of 37 runs only for the latter to throw away his hard work.

Emboldened perhaps by a sumptuous drive for four, he was gone two balls later, fencing indecisively at Broad and finding Cook’s safe hands at slip.

There was even worse to come for the West Indies when their anchorman Chanderpaul guided Stokes to point with minimal prompting.

For Stokes, who had earlier hurt his knee sliding in the outfield, it was a much-needed moment of fortune.

After 32 wicketless overs last week, he struck gold with just his second delivery here, courtesy of Chanderpaul’s confused stroke.

Samuels shepherded the score into three figures before the break, but he and Blackwood still had plenty to do.