West Indies v England: Saqib Mahmood and Jack Leach save tourists’ hopes in Granada decider Yorkshire News

After two dead-pitch draws in Antigua and Barbados, tourists had hoped for a livelier surface in Grenada, but found their main order lacking when it arrived.

England were spinning down the drain at 67-7 in the afternoon session, with former Yorkshire starter Alex Lees the only basman to hit double figures, but recovered to an unlikely 204 thanks to the tenacity of the line.

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The 10th-wicket pair batted for almost two and a half hours for a stand of 90, with Leach making a belligerent 41 no out and Mahmood dismissed for 49 in the final act of the day. Not only was it a remarkable first Test entry for the Lancashire man, but it was also 15 more than his career best First Class score.

England captain Joe Root leaves the field, sent off for not running, as teammate Dan Lawrence comes in to bat during the first day of their third Test cricket match against West Indies at the National Cricket Stadium in St George, Grenada. (AP Photo/Ricardo Mazalan)

Leach’s batting is still best remembered for his famous batting failure in the Ashes classic at Headingley in 2019, but without Ben Stokes to lead the way this time he found a less likely accomplice to save the day.

Having previously lost a five-for-21 stroke on either side of lunch, as well as captain Joe Root earlier to a duck, the pair regained a foothold in a game that could easily have been wiped out by stumps.

Home captain Kraigg Brathwaite was brave enough to trust his players after winning the toss and the gamble paid off when the bad habits that blighted England’s Ashes campaign resurfaced.

Lees and Zak Crawley started off losing just under an hour, and the lack of new ball opportunities surely bothered Brathwaite.

England’s Chris Woakes leaves the pitch thrown in by West Indies’ Jayden Seals. (AP Photo/Ricardo Mazalan)

But the introduction of the multi-talented Kyle Mayers, remembered here instead of Veerasammy Permaul, spared him further recriminations.

Settling into a modest pace around 75 mph, he took advantage of Crawley’s cravings for coverage, with his first down thrown smoothly into the receiver’s hands in front of the square.

Mayers followed up with the big Root wicket, playing into the danger area outside and through Josh Da Silva. Mayers was fired after five overs, still without conceding a run.

A third wicket just before lunch came into the Windies’ session, Jayden Seales roaring back on attack to pin Dan Lawrence in front of the leg stump to leave England hanging 46-3.

Challenging: England’s Jack Leach bats against the West Indies. (AP Photo/Ricardo Mazalan)

As they urgently needed a period of stability, they plunged into the fight.

Hopes of a Stokes rescue were dashed when an attempted throw capsized on its top edge and sailed straight into Alzarri Joseph as it followed.

By the time Yorkshire’s Lees and Jonny Bairstow succumbed to the outside edges, with Joseph and Kemar Roach happily hunting as a duo, England had lost three wickets in 10 balls without adding to the scoreboard.

The West Indies did not allow the intensity to drop and soon the beams were down as they made the most of some useful off-field movement.

Seales thundered in to launch Ben Foakes through the door, opening a huge gap between bat and bag, before Roach pulled a similar trick to send off Craig Overton for 14.

The latter had at least shown some care and attention to stop the run of single figure scores, with Chris Woakes doing the same with 25 before the second Seals dance cleaned him up after tea.

The innings may have come to an end much quicker had Mayers held Leach’s lead over Joseph by sliding, but it would prove to be a detrimental knockdown.

His association with Mahmood began as an irritation and slowly escalated as the ball softened and the bowling tired.

Mere survival gave way to something more ambitious as the sideways movement dried up, with a few partial turns failing to change the balance.

Leach hit Jason Holder for a bound with a flourish the bowler won’t remember fondly and, after being knocked down at the 15th point, Mahmood moved up to 150 hitting Mayers for six longer.

England had already overcome their worst fears, but the 10th-wicket bracket survived despite the arrival of the second new ball, topping 200 when Mahmood brought Joseph down on the ropes.

He had been dreaming of a maiden for half a century but fell apart at the last moment, felled by Jermaine Blackwood in the closing.

Mahmood reflected: “I saw back from a long time ago and almost had a tunnel vision of trying to get one in there. But the biggest thing was (scoring) 49 in that 96-run partnership between me and Leachy, it put us in a pretty decent position after the first few sessions we had.

“One of the guys has already said ‘it’s downhill from here.’ When I came out to bat, I saw some of the guys in their white uniforms, so he cheered me up a little bit.”

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This notice was published: 2022-03-24 22:54:09

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