Zak Crawley and Joe Root put up a 193-run stand for the second wicket in England’s second leg to bolster their hopes of victory in the first Test against the West Indies – at least until the weather intervened .
Day four could have been tricky for tourists in Antigua, with any rush for the first wickets potentially offering West Indies a clear vision of an opening win.
After Jack Leach wrapped up the hosts innings on 375 by taking the wicket of Jayden Seales with the third ball of the day, Crawley, who then reached 117 not out, demanded a first-round review to overturn an lbw decision.
Fellow fly-half Alex Lees was not so lucky, setting off for six at Kemar Roach to reduce England to 24-1, still 40 points behind their opponents.
Still, it brought Root alongside Crawley, and the captain scored an unbeaten 84 in a standout partnership that changed England’s prospects significantly.
A short rain delay with Crawley on 49 might have increased the nerves, but he came back to pass 50 and continue into triple figures, marking his second Test century.
Root was on course to follow Crawley when the weather brought England to a standstill again, with play eventually being abandoned for the day after talks between referees and captains.
Root ready to take a risk?
England are 153 points up from 217-1, in an excellent position to accelerate their scoring and try to win this game rather than settle for a draw. But Friday’s early finish meant their lead was no greater, making any call to go on the offensive a gamble as the West Indies could still excel at bat themselves.
In the series opener, skipper Root may well be taking a more measured approach – especially with his bowlers struggling in the early innings.
Crawley strikes critical
This Root might have such a dilemma owes a lot to Crawley, who put a disappointing first-inning eight behind him in some style. Had he left early, as he might have when a review was needed, England would likely have faced a long day looking to shield hopes of a draw.
Crawley’s unbeaten 200 ball shot, his score increased by 16 fours, instead gave the tourists hope for a first away win in nine Tests.