x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

England strike early blows as hosts go on the defensive

England made important inroads before lunch on the third day of the final Test at the Queen's Park Oval, but found themselves frustrated by the West Indies captain Chris Gayle.

PORT OF SPAIN // England made important inroads before lunch on the third day of the final Test at the Queen's Park Oval yesterday, but found themselves frustrated by the West Indies captain Chris Gayle. Resuming the day on 92-1, the hosts were 176-3 after the first session with Gayle unbeaten on 87. The first wicket to fall yesterday was that of Daren Powell who was caught by Kevin Pietersen off the bowling of Stuart Broad for a duck. Ramnaresh Sarwan was the next man to go, lbw to Amjad Khan for 14, his first failure of the series.

On Saturday, Matt Prior celebrated his status as a new father with his second Test hundred to enhance England's bid to level the series. The wicketkeeper missed the last match due to paternity leave, but after travelling home to spend time with his first son, Johnathan, he returned to make an unbeaten 131. Andrew Strauss and Paul Collingwood also hit centuries as England went on to make 546-6 declared.

England had made a calamitous start to the second day, losing two wickets inside the opening four overs, but Prior and Collingwood shared a 218-run alliance as the West Indies went through the motions. "They certainly looked as though they were playing for a draw, the way they bowled and the fields they set were very defensive," said Prior. "When you play like that it can come back to bite you, so hopefully it will."

The tourists were hopeful that the surface would deteriorate more than the ones in Antigua and Barbados. "It is going to be tough, it's going to be hot and the wicket looks good," added Prior. "But this pitch looks like it's drier and is going to break up a lot more. The cracks are widening, the bounce might get more variable and it might turn a bit more. Fingers crossed." * PA Sport