Ben Stokes and Dom Sibley scored fine centuries before England reduced West Indies to 1/32 in their first innings on day two of the second Test at Old Trafford.
Stokes (176) and Sibley (120) shared in a massive 260-run partnership for the fourth wicket, occupying a weary West Indies attack for a demoralising 575 deliveries, helping set up a declaration at 9/469 late in the day.
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While the batting was at times slow, Stokes and Sibley’s contributions could prove the difference on a pitch where there is still enough in it for the bowlers, as Sam Curran proved late on.
Stuart Broad and Chris Woakes bowled well first up, but it was Curran who had the golden arm, trapping John Campbell (12) LBW with his third ball — confirmed by DRS, having initially been given not out on the field.
Curran could, and perhaps should, have had another review in his favour in the final over of the day, but England decided against using one for an LBW shout against nightwatchman Alzarri Joseph that was shown to be out.
The West Indies were unfortunate not to have more success with the ball themselves on a hugely frustrating day. Working tirelessly throughout, and limited by an injured Joseph (tricep) and a stiff Shannon Gabriel, the seamers found considerable movement and beat the bat on a number of occasions, while Roston Chase (5/172) got decent turn and bounce on his way to a five-wicket haul.
Stokes and Sibley carved up the Windies.Source:Getty Images
The tourists waited until the 94th over — the 12th of the day – to take the second new ball, after being encouraged by the swing they were seeing with the old one.
But Sibley and Stokes were in no mood to give their wickets away, leaving well outside off stump, and they were fortunate to miss the rare few they did play a false shot at.
Sibley brought up his second Test century shortly before lunch, while Stokes waited until after the interval to tick off the one run he still needed for his 10th Test ton.
Quite contrasting approaches from the two centurions followed, with Stokes rapidly going up through the gears and beyond 150 — a glorious, checked-drive six straight down the ground off Joseph a particular highlight — while Sibley still struggled to score.
The plaudits flowed thick and fast for Stokes, who took six wickets in the opening Test to go with scores of 43 and 46. Former England captain Michael Vaughan led the way.
England’s best player … England’s best fielder … England’s most impactful bowler … England’s best batsman at the moment delivers once again … @benstokes38 is a freak … nothing he cannot do … #TestCricket #ENGvWI
The way Ben Stokes can change the pace of his innings and go through the gears with such ease is incredible 🏏
Ben Stokes is a GENIUS. End of. #ENGvWI #Stokes 🔥⭐️
Ben Stokes, you are ridiculous. Best player of our generation. #ENGvWI
In all seriousness, get to your radio, TV or streams as Ben Stokes is doing a madness again #EngvWI
This was the second-highest of Stokes’s 10 Test hundreds, behind his blistering 258 against South Africa at Cape Town in 2016.
But, more significantly, it was also his fourth Test century since the start of 2019, during which time the left-hander has averaged over 52 — the sign of a world-class batsman.
“Numbers, figures … I don’t really care,” said Stokes. “The main number for me is how many wins.
“I was more buzzing that I faced 300 balls than I was when I got to my hundred, that’s something I never thought I’d be capable of doing.
“Being an instinctive player is great but there’s time in the past where I’ve let how I’m playing at the time affect me, thinking I can play some big shots and I’d be alright.
“I feel at an age and an experience level where I really understand my game pretty much all the time and I try not to get carried away.”
Stokes let loose after reaching triple figures.Source:Getty Images
Sibley was particularly penned in against the spin of Chase and ultimately, with England in pursuit of quick runs, he perished holing out at deep mid-wicket when trying to break from the shackles.
Ollie Pope (7), having waited with his pads on for the best part of a day, quickly came and went, trapped LBW when playing back to a Chase delivery that perhaps kept a little low.
Jos Buttler, his place in the side being questioned, enjoyed the freedom that came with England’s dominance and began to get going when taking Chase for three boundaries in an over, only for two quick wickets to reign him in.
Kemar Roach (2/58) had toiled without reward in the series until he picked up two wickets in two balls to find himself on a hat-trick. Roach first ended Stokes’ epic vigil, the all-rounder nicking behind when attempting a reverse-swat, while the ball to get Woakes was a beauty, bringing a regulation edge to a wide third slip.
Buttler (40) and Curran (17) saw England beyond 400 before they too fell in quick succession, with Curran’s top-edged reverse-sweep securing Chase his five-for. Dom Bess (31 not out) and Broad (11 not out) then slapped on a quick 40 to the score before the declaration came.
England will have been hoping for more than the solitary Curran strike in the 14 overs at the West Indies late on, especially with rain forecast for Saturday, but the hosts are still in a very strong position as they look to level this three-match series.
This article first appeared on Sky Sports and was reproduced with permission
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