Cricket Sports

Holder puts Windies in control at Southampton

Fast bowler Jason Holder produced the best figures by a West Indies captain against England with a career-best six-wicket haul on Thursday, flattening the hosts and handing the Caribbean side the initiative on the second day of the opening Test.

In a magical spell which started in the first session and continued after lunch, the 28-year-old claimed six for 42 as England were dismissed for a hugely disappointing 204 in their first innings on the stroke of tea at the Ageas Bowl.

Speedster Shannon Gabriel bowled with pace to pick up four for 62, combining with Holder to ensure England never recovered after stumbling to lunch on 106 for five.

Captain Ben Stokes top-scored with 43, vice-captain Jos Buttler got 35 while number eight Dom Bess resisted with an unbeaten 31 from 44 deliveries at number eight and opener Rory Burns grafted for 30, but England’s batsmen had little answer to Holder’s guile and Gabriel’s sustained pace.

Faced with a daunting final session, West Indies battled confidently to 57 for one before bad light eventually halted play with 27 overs still scheduled, and will head into Friday’s day three 147 runs in arrears.

Left-hander John Campbell was the sole wicket to fall, lbw to veteran seamer Jimmy Anderson after striking a fluent 28 from 36 balls with three fours, in a 43-run opening stand with vice-captain Kraigg Brathwaite (20 not out).

He lived a charmed life, however, twice saved by DRS after being given out lbw to Anderson on 12 and then 24.

Brathwaite and Shai Hope, not out on three, then combined to deny England any further success.

After rain allowed only 82 minutes on Wednesday, an inspired West Indies dominated the first two sessions, with Holder leading by example with his seventh five-wicket haul in Tests.

The 28-year-old shared the four wickets to fall in the first session with Gabriel as England, resuming the morning on 35 or one, were never allowed to find their composure.

Burns, unbeaten on 20 at the start, along with Joe Denly on 14, extended their second wicket stand to 48 to keep West Indies without success for the first half hour before Gabriel made the breakthrough.

Whipped to the square leg boundary off the previous delivery, Gabriel brought the next ball back to beat Denly’s defense and remove the right-hander’s off-stump at 48 for two.

With just three runs added, Gabriel accounted for Burns in his next over, hitting the left-hander on leg stump and gaining an lbw verdict courtesy DRS.

The left-hander faced 85 balls in a shade over two hours and counted four fours.

Zak Crawley tried to repair the damage in concert with Stokes and had added 20 for the fourth wicket when Holder, introduced on stroke of the first hour, trapped him lbw for 10 also on review, in the fourth over following the resumption.

Exploiting a nagging length and finding shape in seamer-friendly conditions, Holder then ripped apart the remainder of England’s innings with a spell that was as surgical as it was devastating.

When he missed his length in successive deliveries, Ollie Pope (12) indulged with delightful boundaries on either side of the wicket but Holder exacted his revenge in his next over, taking one away from the right-hander who featured an edge through to wicketkeeper Shane Dowrich for the first of his three catches.

Rocking on 87 for five, England could have been in deeper trouble 10 minutes before lunch but Kemar Roach put down Stokes on 14 off a difficult low diving catch at long leg off pacer Alzarri Joseph.

Stokes reached the interval on 21 and then survived another chance on 30 when Shamarh Brooks dropped a straightforward chance at short cover off Roach in the third over following the resumption.

He and Buttler then counter-attacked in a 67-run, sixth wicket stand as England fought back to be 154 for five at one stage. While the left-handed Stokes faced 97 balls in just over two hours and struck seven fours, the right-handed Buttler punched six fours off 47 deliveries.

However, Holder bought himself back and was rewarded in his second over with the prized wicket of Stokes, caught at the wicket trying to clip a full length delivery that swung.

His dismissal opened the floodgates again for West Indies as Holder removed Buttler in his very next over with three runs added at 157 for seven, brilliantly caught one-handed by Dowrich diving low to his right.

Holder, the top-ranked all-rounder in Tests, then completed his five-wicket haul in his next over when he gained an lbw decision against Barbados-born Jofra Archer (0) after taking recourse to DRS.

For Holder, it was his sixth five-wicket haul in his last 10 Tests, further enhancing his status as one of Test cricket’s elite bowlers.

His sixth wicket arrived when Shai Hope pouched Mark Wood (5) at gully and Gabriel ended the innings by bowling Anderson for 10.

CMC

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