Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 29 October 2020

Ben Stokes leads the way as England level Test series against West Indies

Hosts win Manchester Test by 113 runs late on day five

After two matches, and two last-session finishes, the lockdown Test series will go to a decider later this week after England bounced back against West Indies.

The home side kept alive their hopes of regaining the Wisden Trophy as they won by 113 runs at Old Trafford.

It was a personal triumph for one player in particular. As per the official world rankings, Ben Stokes is not even the best all-rounder in this series.

Jason Holder, the opposition captain, is the eminent player on that measure, and had got the better of Stokes in their duel in the opening Test, which West Indies won.

Many subjective opinions would have Stokes down as the world’s No 1 player at present, though. Especially after performances like this.

Having scored an uncharacteristically attritional 176 in the first innings, he blazed a brutal 78 not out in 57 balls while opening the batting in the second.

That enabled Joe Root to declare the England innings on 129-3, and set the tourists 312 to win in 85 overs.

Stokes played a key role with the ball, too. He broke the key partnership between Jermaine Blackwood and Shamarh Brooks, which had been worth 100, as he bounced out Blackwood.

Three balls earlier, Stokes had chased a ball all the way to the boundary behind him, off his own bowling.

Once Stokes had prised the opening, wickets fell regularly, and it felt as though he was going to finish it off himself.

He had Alzarri Joseph caught by Dom Bess at point, leaving just Shannon Gabriel to see the away side through more than an hour, in concert with Kemar Roach, to save the game.

With one wicket needed, though, Stokes pulled up, two balls short of finishing his 15th over, with what appeared to be discomfort in his left thigh.

Stokes stayed on the field, suggesting it was merely precautionary, and Bess promptly secured the final wicket, as Roach was brilliantly caught at short leg by Ollie Pope.

The sides will meet again at the same ground for the finale, which starts on Friday.

Updated: July 20, 2020 10:01 PM

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