Da Silva steers West Indies into narrow lead in Test decider
Joshua da Silva's unbeaten maiden Test half-century in the Caribbean anchored a West Indies lower-order revival which pushed the home side ahead of England on the second day of the third and final Test on Friday.
Replying to the tourists' first innings total of 204, da Silva's unbeaten 54 and vital contributions from Kyle Mayers, Alzarri Joseph and Kemar Roach lifted the home side from the depths of 95 for six to 232 for eight at stumps.
While not nearly as dramatic as the last-wicket stand of 90 between Saqib Mahmood and Jack Leach on day one which resuscitated the English from 114 for nine, the West Indian version of tail-end resistance saw 137 runs added for the loss of two wickets.
In stark contrast to the dreary cricket which defined most of the drawn first two matches, da Silva (54 not out) and Roach (25 not out) will be keen to extend a ninth-wicket stand on the third morning which has already produced 55 runs and earned the home team a lead of 28 runs with two wickets in hand.
Chris Woakes led the England effort with the ball, taking three wickets in mid-afternoon to trigger a West Indies slide which seemed terminal until da Silva joined Mayers.
Successive partnerships of 33 with Mayers, 49 with Joseph (28) and the unbroken stand with Roach followed, the ninth-wicket pair unperturbed by the arrival of the second new ball half-hour before the close of play.
Da Silva's half-century, his fourth overall in Test cricket, has occupied more than three hours in which he faced 152 deliveries, stroking four fours.
"My home form hasn't been very good so it was especially pleasing to get runs in from of home support," said de Silva.
- 'Faith in the guys' -
"I have complete faith in the guys in the lower-order and they even outshone me this evening. We'll be looking to extend it as far as we can tomorrow because Jayden (Seales) can bat as well and we want to have some runs to work with in the second innings."
Under pressure to prove his Test match value outside of England, Woakes extracted disconcerting bounce in the post-lunch period to account for Nkrumah Bonner and Jason Holder in the space of four balls before removing Jermaine Blackwood with a full-length delivery.
It was at that point –- 95 for six -– when da Silva entered the proceedings and while Mayers (28) took the limelight in their brief stand before he fell to Ben Stokes, the wicketkeeper-batsman displayed the calmness and maturity which has become a feature of his play since his Test debut in New Zealand at the end of 2020.
"We're pretty pleased with the way things went today because the wicket is starting to play a lot better," said Woakes in assessing the day's play from an England perspective.
"We probably should have bowled a bit fuller at the start of the day, even if it meant conceding a few boundaries. It seemed the effects of the roller in the morning wore off after that first drinks break, which is when we really got stuck in."
Starting their reply to England's modest first innings total in the morning, West Indies got a bright opening partnership of exactly 50 but the complexion of the day changed dramatically with the dismissal of skipper Kraigg Brathwaite by Stokes in the second hour.
That was followed by the demise of new batsman Shamarh Brooks to Saqib Mahmood.
When the other opener John Campbell, who had survived a torrid examination from Craig Overton, fell to the same bowler just before the interval, England were in much better heart.
Brathwaite, a virtual immovable object in the previous match in Barbados where he faced more deliveries than ever before by a West Indies batsman in Test cricket, looked in similar mood as Campbell did most of the scoring at the other end.
But it took a delivery from Stokes which barely got off the ground to remove him as he was trapped plumb leg-before for 17 off 56 deliveries.
Brooks' swift demise put the focus on Campbell, who found Overton to be his greatest challenge, eventually succumbing to the burly pacer.
Twice the left-hander was struck on the helmet and though he resumed his innings both times, he never looked settled against the continued hostility of his opponent, eventually gloving another lifting delivery on the body down the leg-side for wicketkeeper Ben Foakes to take the catch.