(AFP) – West Indies captain Jason Holder starred in a dramatic fightback as wickets tumbled on a remarkable first day of the third and deciding Test against England at Lord’s on Thursday.
When bad light eventually ended play, England had slumped to 46 for four in reply to West Indies’ seemingly mediocre 123 all out — a deficit of 77 runs — with the three-match series all square at 1-1.
Dawid Malan and Ben Stokes were both 13 not out after towering paceman Holder had taken two for 18 in six overs.
It seemed England, who will hope their middle and lower order batting again bails them out of trouble on Friday, would have the upper hand when Stokes returned Test-best figures of six for 26 in 14.3 unchanged overs either side of tea.
James Anderson, who helped Stokes on his way with a brilliant slip catch, was left one shy of becoming the first England bowler to take 500 Test wickets after a return of two for 31 in 16 overs.
Never before had a Test at the ‘home of cricket’ started so late in the English season and the 19 overs England faced Monday was time enough for a collapse of their own in still heavily overcast conditions on a green-tinged pitch affected by a fungal infection.
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There were times when Stokes, swinging the ball at sharp pace, was all but unplayable.
“Bowling in the warm-up this morning, the ball was swinging, so it wasn’t surprising when we saw how much the ball was doing,” he told BBC Radio.
“It’s a special feeling to be on the (Lord’s) honours’ board. No one can ever take that away from you.”
As for leaving Anderson on 499 Test wickets, Stokes added: “He’s got another innings to get it and what a place to do it.”
England rapidly declined to 24 for four in a match that would surely have been halted a lot earlier for bad light before the advent of floodlights at Lord’s.
Openers Mark Stoneman and Alastair Cook were both caught behind off Kemar Roach.
Tom Westley then saw his prospects of an Ashes tour place fade when he was plumb lbw to Holder for eight — his fifth successive single-figure score in Test cricket.
Holder struck at the start of his next over to have opposing captain and star batsman Joe Root well caught for just one by first slip Kieran Powell as wicket-keeper Shane Dowrich started to go for the chance.
Malan, on his Middlesex home ground, survived the hat-trick.
Earlier, Stokes’s figures surpassed his previous Test-best of six for 36 against Australia at Trent Bridge in 2015.
The West Indies had batted superbly to chase down a target of 322 in winning the second Test at Headingley last week.
But runs only came freely when Powell (39) and Shai Hope (29), fresh from his twin hundreds at Headingley, were combining in a third-wicket partnership of 56 after Holder won the toss.
When Anderson, wicketless in the second innings at Headingley removed both Kraigg Brathwaite (10) and Kyle Hope (nought) either side of a a 40-minute rain break, West Indies were 22 for two.
Kyle Hope’s exit brought in younger brother Shai Hope, who made 147 and 118 not out — his first two Test hundreds — at Headingley.
After lunch, Anderson pressed hard for the elusive 500th wicket but it would not come and later spell saw him repeatedly beat Devendra Bishoo’s outside edge without reward.
Instead it was Toby Roland-Jones, who took two for 32 on his Middlesex home ground having been dropped at Headingley, and Stokes who shared the remaining West Indies wickets.
Roland-Jones claimed the prize scalp of Shai Hope, who scored 28 runs in boundaries, when he cut one away from the right-hander and had him caught by Cook.
Stokes produced the delivery of the day to square up Roston Chase (18) and clip the top of his off stump before polishing off the tail in a spell of three for none in six balls.