Cricbuzz Staff •
Keemo Paul got Windies the breakthrough. © AFP
A top order that’s been searching for runs to get some confidence was once again put to the test by the Windies pace attack on the morning of the third and final Test at St. Lucia. Stand-in skipper Kraigg Brathwaite had no hesitation in asking the fragile England top order to face the music in conditions that were better for batting compared to what was presented to the visitors in the opening two Tests. On expected lines, both Rory Burns and comeback man Keaton Jennings batted in a watchful manner before the latter perished as England went into the lunch break at 46/1, a run rate of less than two.
Jennings, who was dropped for the second Test, had made his return at the expense of Ben Foakes. He got off the mark very quickly with a couple but his troubles had just begun. He edged Kemar Roach behind off the final ball of the fifth over, only for the ball to fall short of second slip and one ball later, the players had to rush back to the pavilion with rain making a cameo appearance for half an hour.
Once play resumed, both Shannon Gabriel and Roach continued to pose questions as Jennings received a double reprieve in the ninth over of the innings. A delivery that came back in after pitching trapped him plumb in front, only for the umpire to rule it not out. With the hosts also refusing to take the review, replays showed that the left-hander had indeed been lucky. Two balls later, a straightforward catch off the outside edge was put down by Roston Chase at third slip and perhaps, Jennings would have thanked his stars and hoped this luck would do wonders.
Instead, he continued to remain tentative and was finally dismissed by Keemo Paul immediately after the youngster came onto bowl. The pacer, who replaced the suspended Jason Holder in the playing XI, bowled a loosener outside off and the batsman tried to cash in by attempting a drive, only to edge it to first slip. Joe Denly, batting at three, received a similar delivery, that he drove uppishly for a couple of runs.
Paul and Gabriel then bowled some absolute beauties towards the end of the session with the batsmen keen on getting through to the break without further damage. England then had the rub of the green once again in the final over before lunch when Gabriel bowled one at awkward length and line on leg to Denly, which the batsman tried to fend without success. Upon collecting the ball, the wicketkeeper was convinced there was a glove and urged the skipper to review the decision. Replays showed that the batsman had indeed gloved it, but quite remarkably, Denly’s glove was not in contact with the handle just in time when the ball kissed it, thus managing to survive.
Brief scores: England 46/1 (Rory Burns 27*; Keemo Paul 1-7) vs Windies.