Shannon Gabriel's late strikes put West Indies in control of Southampton Test
England lose five wickets in final session on Day Four to lead by 170 with two wickets in hand
The revival of West Indies pace bowling continues apace as the first post-Covid Test match approaches a tantalising final day.
Shannon Gabriel took two wickets in the final hour of Day Four to help shift the balance of power back towards the Caribbean side against England.
With two second-innings wickets remaining, the home side will start the final day on Sunday with a lead of 170.
Their lead might have been far healthier were it not for a fine comeback from the tourists late in the day at the Ageas Bowl, as they took five wickets in the last session.
England will start the day with Jofra Archer and Mark Wood at the wicket, with just James Anderson still to bat.
For all their batting problems, England might have found a solution to a long-standing issue on Saturday. Namely, who represents the future at No 3 in their line up.
Joe Root will return to captain the side in the next Test, after missing this one to attend the birth of his second child, and is sure to return to his preferred position at No 4.
That has meant this match has been an audition between Joe Denly and Zak Crawley to fill the role above him.
The 22-year-old Crawley stole the advantage as he made a fine 76 to help erase the first innings deficit of 114.
While Denly got out meekly, chipping up a catch from the off-spin of Roston Chase, Crawley was embellishing the good first impressions he had made last winter.
Crawley had made his first half-century for England in the last Test of the series win in South Africa, then made a hundred in the last warm up match in Sri Lanka before cricket went into hibernation due to coronavirus.
The platform that Crawley and Dom Sibley – who scored 50 at the top of the order – made was in danger of being squandered by five wickets in the evening session, though.
For the third successive innings in the match, one captain dismissed the other, as Jason Holder again accounted for Ben Stokes, who made 46.
Alzarri Joseph then picked up a quickfire double, with a smart catch off his own bowling to end Crawley’s vigil, and then adding to Jos Buttler’s ongoing problems by cleaning bowling him.
Buttler, too, might be under pressure for his place. He has passed 50 just once in his past 22 Test innings, and Ben Foakes – his potential replacement with the gloves – is part of England’s bio-secure bubble in Southampton.
Then it was left to Gabriel to bolster the West Indies advantage. The barrel-chested quick bowled Dom Bess and Ollie Pope in the same over, as England were reduced to 284 for eight by the close.
Published: July 11, 2020 10:18 PM