MANCHESTER, England – Battle-weary West Indies were staring at a heavy defeat after enduring one of their worst days of the tour, as Stuart Broad’s six-wicket haul followed by a trio of damaging half-centuries installed England as firm favourites to win the decisive third Test and retain the Wisden Trophy.
A shambolic third day at Old Trafford saw the Caribbean side concede a huge first innings lead of 172 after they were dismissed cheaply for 197 after resuming the morning on 137 for six, with the outstanding Broad taking all four wickets to end with six for 31.
England then stormed to 226 for two in their second innings thanks to half-centuries from Roy Burns (90), captain Joe Root (68 not out) and Dom Sibley (56) and when the declaration came at 6 pm (1 pm Eastern Caribbean time), West Indies had been handed an improbable target of 399 runs.
Left with just six overs to survive before the close, West Indies were once again hurt by Broad, the right-hander removing John Campbell (0) and nightwatchman Kemar Roach (4), to send the tourists limping to 10 for two and push his career tally to 499 wickets.
With thunderstorms in the forecast for nearly all of Monday’s penultimate day, West Indies will keep an anxious watch on the skies, hoping the elements can help thwart England’s charge towards a seemingly inevitable victory.
To add to their woes, West Indies were further besieged by injury as wicketkeeper Shane Dowrich took a blow to his face in the eighth over of the England innings and played no further part in the contest, and fast bowlers Shannon Gabriel and Jason Holder were forced off the field at points with niggles.
In fact, Gabriel was limited to just five overs – two before lunch and three following the resumption – and never featured again.
Resuming the morning with the first goal of avoiding the follow-on of 170, West Indies flourished inside the first hour as Holder top-scored with 46 and Dowrich chipped in with 37, to deny England early success.
Holder, starting on 24, struck six fours off 82 balls in two hours while Dowrich faced 63 balls in just shy of two hours at the crease and stroked five fours.
The pair stretched their seventh wicket stand to 68 before being separated in the second over before the first drinks break when Holder, who had earlier been caught off a Chris Woakes no-ball on 38, played back when he should have been forward and was trapped lbw on the crease.
Rahkeem Cornwall followed in identical fashion for 10 with as many runs added at 188 for eight and three balls later in the same over, Roach edged a forward defensive prod for Root to take a low catch at first slip.
Dowrich chased quick runs before he was last out, skying an ill-timed heave to Woakes at mid on.
England easily survived the four overs before lunch taken at 10 without loss before pressing on in the second session, adding a further 76 without losing a wicket.
When a delivery from Gabriel burst through Dowrich’s gloves and struck him on the mouth, Shai Hope took the gloves before reserve gloveman Joshua DaSilva was hastily called into action from the tenth over.
It proved the least of the Windies’ troubles as Burns and Sibley went about putting on a critical 114 for the first wicket, to push the lead close to the 300-run mark.
Burns struck 10 fours off 163 deliveries in just short of 4-¼ hours while Sibley faced 132 balls in just shy of three hours and counted seven fours.
Holder returned for a new spell and got the breakthrough in his first over when he hit Sibley in front but there was no further immediate success for the tourists as Root joined Burns to post another 112 runs for the second wicket.
Root faced just 56 balls, smashing a six and eight fours – three of which came in one over from Roach and carried him to his 49th half-century in Tests.
The left-handed Burns was eyeing his third Test hundred when he perished late in the day, top-edging a swing at off-spinner Roston Chase and skying a simple catch to DaSilva.
Opener John Campbell then failed to see off the new-ball burst, nicking Broad to Root at first slip in the second over to cap a miserable series where he managed only 84 runs from six innings.
And Roach followed in Broad’s next over, edging another defensive prod through to wicketkeeper Jo Buttler.