Rory Burns tapped the ball to backward point and called Dom Sibley through for a quick single. West Indies' Roston Chase sensed a run-out opportunity and charged to his right in an approach to unleash a sidearm flick.
Sibley was nowhere in the frame and looked as if he'd be gone for all money. However, just as Chase was bending down to receive the ball, it bounced awkwardly off the practice turf and hit him on the chest. Both Sibley and Burns heaved a massive sigh of relief.
The freakish piece of bad fortune was the first of many for West Indies on a day when their stars just refused to align. Joshua de Silva, substituting for wicket-keeper Shane Dowrich who copped a nasty blow on the lip, too fell prey to rotten luck.
West Indies toiled bereft of luck
Few overs later, Burns stepped out and missed a widish off-break from Chase, but de Silva failed to capitalize on the opportunity. He'd collected the ball alright, but at the instant he outstretched his right arm to whip the bails off, his left shoe gave way and he botched the stumping by a whisker. Reprieved on his personal score of 12, Burns went on to crack 90, helping England set West Indies an arduous 399-run target.
Ask any fast bowler what he hates the most and he'd say nicks flying through the slip cordon. Kemar Roach and Shannon Gabriel operated magnificently in tandem with the new ball, probing the England openers in decent channels around the off-stump. The cherry kept whizzing past the outside edge, eliciting theatrics from the men catching behind.
Yet, just as luck would have it, the edge was never to be found, although an elusive moment of triumph did finally arrive when Gabriel lulled Sibley into miscuing the drive. Nonetheless, the edge bisecting the third slip and gully fielder all but proved that West Indies weren't enjoying the rub of the green.
For England, the frequency of such propitious interventions increased manifold after the lunch interval. Burns closed the bat face early while flicking Rahkeem Cornwall and got an inside edge on to his thigh pad, but unfortunately, there was nobody to grasp the chance at backward short leg. Shortly after, Burns' foiled attempt at sweeping Chase landed safely into the vacant mid-wicket region.
Burns, by no means a natural slogger, was forced to up the ante as England flirted with the idea of declaration. While he dealt a few lusty blows off Cornwall, he also survived some close shaves en route his pursuit of acceleration.
The southpaw chanced his arm with the reverse paddle only for the glove-brushing tickle to fall short of Shai Hope at slip. He also escaped a leg-before chance as West Indies appealed with half-hearted intent. Though initially the ball seemed to be going over the stumps, hawk-eye later confirmed three reds.
As if the leather hunt England subjected them to wasn't wretched enough, West Indies lost John Campbell and nightwatchman Roach towards the fag end to cap off a disastrous day at the office. With only eight wickets remaining and two days of play left, the hosts already have one hand on the Wisden Trophy.
It's safe to say - Dear West Indies, better luck next time.Published 27 Jul 2020, 09:59 IST