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Stokes smashes sixth Test century as West Indies rally at Headingley

417   //    25 Aug 2017, 23:23 IST
BenStokes - croped
Ben Stokes celebrates scoring his hundred against West Indies

Ben Stokes scored a brilliantly belligerent century to anchor England's recovery on a taxing first day of the second Test against West Indies.

Nursing an innings defeat from Edgbaston, the Windies responded strongly at Headingley on Friday - the returning Shannon Gabriel (4-51) and Kemar Roach (4-71) laying bare ever-deepening cracks in England's batting line-up.

The three men most under pressure - Tom Westley, Mark Stoneman and Dawid Malan - all fell cheaply in a total of 258 all out after the hosts had won the toss.

Joe Root is regularly the binding agent in England's bitty batting and so it proved again as the Yorkshire-born captain equalled a notable record on his home ground - registering a fifty for the 12th Test in succession to match AB de Villiers' benchmark.

Though the skipper fell for 59, Stokes took on the mantle to counter-attack ruthlessly after tea and register his sixth Test century as the Windies' early fire was doused in the all-rounder's own incandescent excellence.

Root was dropped on eight, while Stokes was shelled twice as familiar failings came back to trouble Jason Holder's side before they reached stumps on 19-1.

From the off, England's batting lacked momentum and Gabriel's persistent probing outside Alastair Cook's off-stump was rewarded when the former captain (11) edged to slip.

The rookie pairing of Stoneman and Westley never looked like lasting long.

Dropped on nought, Westley added just three runs before he was trapped in front by Roach, getting out while playing the on-drive in a third straight inning - a technical flaw that will worry selectors as the Ashes loom.

Stoneman was unfortunate to be undone by a beauty from Roach at Edgbaston, but he threw his wicket away here, recklessly inside-edging the same bowler behind and the tourists kept the heat on after lunch as Malan played on to Holder (1-45).

Under the microscope, Root and Stokes produced a fearsome, though at times fluky, counter-attack. 

The captain's life on eight was a dismal drop at slip by Kieran Powell off Gabriel, while Stokes was also put to ground on nine by Kraigg Brathwaite and the left-hander flashing through a vacant third slip had Roach hopping mad at his misfortune.

There was no immediate recompense for Roach and Root's record-breaking half-century was brought up with a sweep, only for the captain to err on the same shot after adding another nine runs.

After Jonny Bairstow (2) failed to contribute, Stokes' flashy fifty was brought up with a crushing straight drive off a tiring Gabriel and Moeen Ali's arrival at the crease promised a union that could thrill.

Moeen perished as Roach roared in again, but Stokes was unstoppable and brought the Headingley crowd to its feet when he brought up three figures, though Gabriel dropping the simplest of catches off Roach the delivery prior added a tinge of increasingly familiar West Indian regret to the England man's milestone.

Gabriel's atonement came in bouncing out Stokes for exactly 100 and that was the end of England's run-scoring as Stuart Broad (0) and Chris Woakes (23) soon fell to offer Roach and Gabriel well-earned rewards.

Brathwaite (13 not out) and Powell were guilty of the costliest drops and the latter did little to redeem himself, falling for five as the Windies clung on through a new-ball onslaught to the close.

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