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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 19 September 2018

Twin centurions help West Indies to turn the tables on England

Tons from Shai Hope and Kraigg Brathwaite help the tourists maintain their positive start to the second Test at Headingley

Kraigg Brathwaite reaches his century by flaying Tom Westley for six runs during day two of the second Test between England and the West Indies
Kraigg Brathwaite reaches his century by flaying Tom Westley for six runs during day two of the second Test between England and the West Indies

Reports of the death of West Indian cricket appear to have been greatly exaggerated. A pair of centuries, a sixth for opener Kraigg Brathwaite a maiden ton for youngster Shai Hope, helped the tourists to build on their impressive bowling performance of Friday to end the second day if not in control of the Second Test at Headingley, then at least in a competitive position for the first time in the series.

At 35-3, and with Jimmy Anderson looking so threatening that the fear among neutrals and partisans alike was that the tourists would capitulate as they had done in the first test, it was a completely different picture.

After he had Kyle Hope caught for his second wicket of the morning with 80 minutes of the session to go, it seriously looked as another collapse was and that the Lancastrian could run through the West Indies card to bring up his 500th Test wicket at some point during the day.

Watchfulness was the word for the next few innings, but then Brathwaite and the second Hope brother, Shai, started to play their shots, adding 64 runs to go in at Lunch on 109-3.

By now the turbulent skies of the morning, reminiscent of a Turner seascape, gave way to bright blue in the afternoon, and the West Indies reacted to the familiar weather by turning on the Caribbean flair.

With a ball to go before Tea, Brathwaite, who had spent a few nervous overs marooned on 96, threw caution to the wind and lofted one of Tom Westley’s part-time off-breaks for six to bring up his century in style and to bring the West Indies in at 206-3.

Shortly after the interval, Hope, who had accelerated during the afternoon, reached his maiden ton, and the tourists were closing in on England’s first innings total of 258.

Brathwaite, who richly deserved to bat through the day, was finally dislodged by Stuart Broad in the 90th over of the innings, beautifully bowled for 134 off 249 balls with the lead at 24. The partnership of 246 runs took up a shade under 70 overs and changed the complexion of the match entirely.

Although Roston Chase fell cheaply for five to Stokes, the positivity continued as the West Indies refused to send on a nightwatchman for the last half hour of the day. Jermaine Blackwood dispatched one of his first balls from Stokes to the boundary for four and remained unbeaten on 21.

At the other end, Hope ended the day just three runs short of 150, a magnificent innings having batted through from the ninth over of the day. The West Indies finished on 329-5, a lead of 71.

From flirting with a disastrous day that would have knocked the stuffing out of the tourists – and all interest out of the series – the day ended with the possibility of the West Indies compiling a substantial three-figure lead.

With the English top-order lacking runs and woefully short of confidence and time at the crease, the tourists have a genuine chance to cause an upset and level the series, a result that even England fans, enamoured as most cricket lovers are of the West Indian game, would be churlish to deny them.

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