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No party for dispirited Windies with carnival in full swing

71   //    29 Aug 2017, 02:29 IST
West Indies captain Jason Holder

A few miles up the road the annual West Indian Carnival was in full swing on a glorious day in Leeds and the Windies players might have been able to join the revellers if they had not missed a beat at Headingley.

Instead the tourists were dancing to the tune of the England batsmen for much of a glorious penultimate day of an enthralling second Test.

Pilloried after a crushing defeat in the first Test at Edgbaston, the visitors had responded in a manner that even their staunchest supporters could surely not have expected to give themselves a great chance to keep the series alive in West Yorkshire.

Yet on a day of Caribbean celebration to mark the 50th West Indian Carnival in nearby Chapeltown, the Windies were distinctly lacking vibrancy out on the field on day four and they were made to pay.

Resuming on 171-3, with a lead of only two runs, England were on the ropes, but the Windies were unable to come up with knockout blows.

Instead it is Joe Root's side who will go into the final day fancying their chances of wrapping up the series after declaring on 490-8. Jason Holder's men duly closed on five without loss, needing an unlikely 317 more runs to win.

Moeen Ali's rapid 84 rubbed salt into the Windies' wounds as England piled on the runs, six batsmen making half-centuries in a remarkable second innings which turned the Test around.

Although Moeen, Root, Dawid Malan, Ben Stokes and Chris Woakes played superbly to give England the upper hand, West Indies shot themselves in the foot on more than one occasion.

Seven dropped catches in the match – giving the prolific Root a life in each innings and Malan one – is inexcusable and will quite probably deny them a first Test win on English soil for 17 years.

Malan went on to make 61 after he was put down by Kieran Powell on 32, a score Moeen was also on when he edged Devendra Bishoo behind but the spinner was ruled to have over-stepped.

There was an element of doubt over whether Bishoo should have been called for a no-ball, but that was the verdict nonetheless and Moeen added insult to injury with a devastating knock.

When Roston Chase took three wickets in a flash England's lead was only 158 with three wickets remaining and the Windies should have been scenting blood, but instead they looked flat.

There had been a curious lack of urgency from Holder and his men all day with the match there for the taking, heads bowed in the field and very little encouragement given to the bowlers.

Holder could not be faulted with the ball, but he had a day to forget as captain.

The skipper opted against taking the new ball before lunch, then turned to Shannon Gabriel and Kemar Roach when the quicks had run out of steam instead of Chase, who had turned the match back in the tourists' favour.

There was a shortage of intensity from a side that is not used to being in such a promising position against one of the leading Test nations and a golden opportunity to silence their critics may have slipped away.  

Rather than join the party on the streets of Leeds, the tourists will need clear heads when they come out to bat on day five and must start on the right note if they are to have any chance of pulling off a famous victory.

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