Kraigg Brathwaite’s 12-hour vigil negates England’s advantage in second Test

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West Indies skipper Kraigg Brathwaite played the innings of his life as he patiently faced 489 balls to score a workman-like 160 to guide the home team to 411 on Day 4 of the second Test against England at the Kensington Oval on Sunday (IST).

Thanks to Brathwaite’s nearly 12-hour vigil, the hosts almost negated England’s advantage, as West Indies fell 96 runs short of the tourists’ first-innings total of 507/9 declared.

Joe Root’s England were 40 without loss in their second innings — a lead of 136 runs — as a draw looks the most likely result on the fifth and final day.

In an innings that personified patience, Brathwaite’s 160 frustrated the England bowling attack leaving both sides needing something special to force a result on the final day. Monday’s morning session will play an important role in determining the fate of this match and whether either team can take a 1-0 lead in the series.

Entering Day 4, West Indies resumed their innings at 288/4, with Brathwaite continuing where he left off, clipping the day’s first delivery off his legs for four. The hosts passed their first goal of the day within the hour, as they reached the follow-on mark. While England’s seamers toiled to no avail, spinner Jack Leach appeared more fruitful in his approach, producing consistent turn and bounce in the early interchanges.

As the fifth-wicket partnership went past fifty, England turned to all-rounder Ben Stokes who, in his third over of the day, managed to force nightwatchman Alzzari Joseph into playing a false shot. Chasing a wide delivery, Joseph found Dan Lawrence at gully.

The fall of wicket brought Jason Holder to the crease. He alongside Brathwaite continued to adopt the steady approach, slowly nibbling away at England’s mammoth total. The pair led West Indies through to the lunch break at 351/5, with Brathwaite five runs short of a second Test score of 150-plus and Holder adopting the supporting role.

England’s fortunes looked to have taken a turn for the better in the immediate proceedings after lunch as Saqib Mahmood struck with the second ball post the interval. A wild stroke from Holder forced an excellent catch from a back-peddling Matt Fisher, providing the debutant Mahmood with his maiden Test wicket.

Brathwaite raised his bat to celebrate 150 shortly after the wicket with a quick single taking him to the total. After a long day, Leach finally was rewarded for his work as an excellent delivery brought to an end Brathwaite’s marathon knock, 160 off 489 deliveries spanning 710 minutes at the crease.

Heading into the tea break, Chris Woakes picked up the scalp of Kemar Roach LBW to leave West Indies eight down and trailing England’s total by 111 runs. As play entered the evening session, the England bowler’s torment continued in their chase of the last few wickets. Eventually, after 187.5 overs in the field, Leach trapped Joshua Da Silva square in front of the stumps to end the West Indies innings.

England’s opening batters arrived at the crease facing a difficult period to get through to the end of play without loss. In just the fifth over, West Indies looked to have broken through the England opening pair as Zak Crawley was given out lbw off the bowling of Roach. However, upon review, the ball was shown to be flying high and wide of the mark.

With stumps called two overs from time, England’s opening duo guided the visitors to 40/0 at the close. With day five set for an intriguing encounter, Zak Crawley (21 not out) and Alex Lees (18 not out) will return to the crease with plenty left to be done if either side is to force a result and take a 1-0 lead in the series.

Brief scores: England 507/9 decl and 40 for no loss vs West Indies 411 (Kraigg Brathwaite 160, Shamarh Brooks 39, Jermaine Blackwood 102, Joshua Da Silva 33; Jack Leach 3/118, Ben Stokes 2/65). England lead by 136 runs.

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