A brilliant unbeaten 136 run fifth-wicket stand between Ollie Pope and Jos Buttler gave England the upper hand as the home side ended first day of their series decider against West Indies at Old Trafford at 258/4.
England made a surprise selection by dropping batsman Zak Crawley and included both Jofra Archer and James Anderson in order to strengthen their bowling (given that Ben Stokes was unlikely to bowl), with left arm fast bowler Sam Curran unlucky to miss out despite impressing in the second test.
On the other hand, West Indies went with just two front line pacers and one all rounder pacer as they included spinner Rahkeem Cornwall in place of Alzarri Joseph. One might have thought Jason Holder would want to give his bowlers a rest after winning the toss following two taxing tests, but he surprised one and all by choosing to field first.
Workload (overs bowled) for West Indies & England fast bowlers heading into the third #ENGvWI test (* playing today)
WI- Roach* (80), Holder* (78), Gabriel* (69.5), Joseph (56.1)
Eng- Stokes* (52), Anderson* (40), Archer* (39), Broad* (38), Woakes* (37), Wood (34), Curran (28)
— thecricketblog (@thecricblogger) July 24, 2020
Shannon Gabriel gave Windes a major scare as he left the field in the first hour of the play, but later returned and bowled 18 overs.
Dom Sibley departed for a duck, as he was trapped leg before wicket by Kemar Roach. Skipper Joe Root, who came in at No 3, looked good in his short stay until he was run out by Roston Chase’s direct throw for 17 just on the stroke of lunch.
Ben Stokes, promoted to No. 4 and playing only as a batsman, was bowled through the gate by a peach from Roach for 20, as England were reduced to 92/3 .
Rory Burns looked good in his innings of 57, before he fell to a brilliant one handed catch by Cornwall off Roston Chase. At this stage, the Windies thought they were in with a chance to expose England’s lengthy tail, but the pair of Buttler and Pope had other ideas. Both were not in the best run of form coming into this test, but stepped up to the plate when their side needed them the most.
They resurrected the innings by adding an unbroken 136 run stand for the fifth wicket, as the home side recovered from 122/4 to 258/4, before bad light stopped play. Pope was on 91, with just nine shy off his maiden ton, while Buttler was at the crease on 56.
Buttler had smashed Cornwall over midwicket for two towering sixes, and eventually reached his fifty off 104 balls. The wicket keeper though had a couple of lucky escapes late in the day, edging wide of slip but remained unbeaten at stumps.
England ended Day 1 at 258/4 in 85.4 overs.