St. John’s: An unbeaten partnership of 193 runs between Zac Crawley and Joe Root turned the tables on West Indies and gave England a lead of 153 in a first Test headed toward a draw.
Crawley, the opener, and captain Root, at first drop, patiently led England to 217-1 in its second innings at stumps on Day 4 at Sir Vivian Richards Stadium and relative safety.
West Indies’ first innings ended in the day’s first over on 375 for a lead of 64.
Yet another rout of England’s top order was on the cards when Alex Lees was dismissed leg before wicket by fast bowler Kemar Roach for the second time in his Test debut, for 6 to go along with his first-innings 4.
Crawley had been given out to Roach in the first over before scoring, but he overturned the umpire’s decision on review.
Crawley didn’t offer another chance for the rest of another day of grind, which came to an early end in England’s 64th over due to a third and heavier rain interruption.
On a flat pitch, Crawley scored his second test century, 117 not out off 200 balls.
He survived the cull after the Ashes in Australia, where he was exposed by seam and swing, but has fully exploited a friendly Antigua pitch.
At the other end, a composed Root was on 84 from 158 balls and giving no hint that he won’t reach his 24th Test century today.
They handled the new ball comfortably in the morning, reaching lunch on 72-1.
They slowed down for a time in the middle session, but began to pick up closer to tea, reached at 146-1.
The pair remained cosy at the crease after tea, Crawley loosening up again to rack 16 boundaries and counting.
But a result on the final day today looks more likely to be a draw, especially with England possibly without fast bowler Mark Wood, who was nursing an injured elbow.