England’s unlikely push for victory was once again thwarted by Kraigg Braithwaite, who steered his side to safety as the second test ended in a draw. The West Indian captain faced 184 balls with an unbeaten 56 on the final day to ensure the draw, with the series still nicely poised.
On another docile flat pitch, Joe Root called correctly on the opening morning and elected to bat first. England handed test debuts to both Saqib Mahmood of Lancashire and Yorkshire’s Matt Fisher.
England soon in trouble
The visitors were soon in trouble when Zak Crawley(o) was caught behind off Jayden Seales. Alex Lees made a patient 30 off 138 balls before he was trapped lbw by off spinner Permaul Veerasammy. It was down to Joe Root and Dan Lawrence to steady the ship with a partnership of 164.
With the last over of the day, following consecutive boundaries, Lawrence(91) chanced his arm again but fell to Jason Holder after chipping the ball straight to short extra cover. Root closed the day on an unbeaten 119, with England in a good position on 244-3.
Captain Root to the rescue again
The second day saw England accelerate the tempo with Root going on to make 153 and Ben Stokes 120 with the visitors electing to declare at 507-9.
West Indies lost opener John Campbell(4) to Fisher’s second delivery in test cricket, but thanks to Braithwaite and Shamarh Brooks the pair navigated the West Indies to the close at stumps on 71-1.
West Indies struggle early on
On the third morning, the hosts lost Brooks(39) off Leach and Nkrymah Bonner(9) to Ben Stokes to leave the West Indies 101-3. The home side were rescued by a magnificent fourth wicket partnership of 183 between Braithwaite and Jermaine Blackwood before Blackwood(102) fell on the cusp of the end of the day after being trapped lbw by Lawrence to leave West Indies 288-4 with Braithwaite unbeaten on 109.
The home side lost Joseph(19) to Stokes and Holder second ball after tea off Mahmood. England had to wait until the new ball was taken before further success when Leach bowled Braithwaite(160) to end his marathon innings consisting of 489 balls.
Good response from the hosts
West Indies eventually were bowled out for 511 with Leach bowling almost 70 overs for his 3- 118. By the close of the fourth day, England had reached 40-0 with Crawley 21 not out and Lees 18.
On the final morning, England were going for quick runs in pursuit of a declaration at lunch. At the break they had reached 185-6 with Root setting the West Indies 282 to win in two sessions.
Leach and Mahmood strike early
Leach got the initial breakthrough in his first over when he had Campbell(10) caught at bat pad. Mahmood then struck twice to remove Brooks(4) and Bonner(3) both to Root in the slips to leave West Indies struggling on 39-3.
The hosts dug in as England searched for more scalps but were denied further success with England requiring taking seven wickets in the final session.
Tough task for England in final session
It was down to Leach to make the breakthrough when Blackwood(27) edged to gully. with Holder(0) lasting 24 balls before being bowled by Leach, England sensed the victory could be on.
Into the last hour, England still needed five wickets for victory, but once again they were denied the resistance of Braithwaite to deny them the win.
The sides will now head of to Grenada for the final test starting on Thursday, with everything to play for, and hoping for a result wicket.