England fall short of test victory as West Indies hang on for draw

  • England come up six wickets short
  • Holder, Bonner frustrate visitors
  • Second test starts on Wednesday

March 12 (Reuters) - England fell short of victory as West Indies survived for a tense draw despite a top-order collapse on the final day of the first test in North Sound on Saturday.

The home team were reeling after losing four wickets for eight runs in their second innings -- including those of John Campbell (22) and Jermaine Blackwood (2) -- who inexplicably fell making aggressive Twenty20-style shots.

West Indies still had to survive another 36 overs at that stage, but experienced allrounder Jason Holder and first-innings century-maker Nkrumah Bonner steadied the ship, surviving until the end at Viv Richards Stadium on the island of Antigua.

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Though West Indies will be happier with the draw than England, both captains sounded content with the result.

"Throughout the game we got better and better on a very docile wicket," said Joe Root of his England team.

His counterpart Kraigg Brathwaite described the result as hard fought.

"I thought that was a very good effort," he said.

He might not have been so upbeat if not for the Saturday batting of Holder and Bonner, who hunkered down and played defensively with the utmost of caution, especially Bonner who took 34 balls to get off the mark.

But he and Holder were mostly comfortable, though the former had a scare when struck on the pad from spinner Jack Leach with 22 overs left.

Given not out on field, England decided not to use their final review, a poor decision as replays showed the ball would have hit leg stump.

England put themselves in that predicament by earlier wasting a review on an lbw appeal that was not even close.

With Leach and part-time spinner Dan Lawrence finally producing some turn on a pitch that at long last offered some assistance to the slow bowlers, England crowded the bat with five and, eventually, six fielders.

However, they could not capture the elusive breakthrough that would have earned a crack at the tail, the match finishing with West Indies 147 for four, Holder on 37 and Bonner 38.

England's cause was not helped by the absence of fast bowler Mark Wood, sidelined by a right elbow injury, though it was always likely that the result would come down to the success of the team's spinners.

Earlier, England set West Indies a victory target of 286 runs, declaring in time to give their attack 71 overs to get through the West Indies.


Root completed an almost effortless century in England's second innings before declaring on 349 for six wickets.

It was the 24th century of his career, putting him second only to Alastair Cook's 33 among England players.

Root brought up his century with a single, removing his helmet and gently kissing the necklace made by his son, while also acknowledging the crowd as a stiff breeze tousled his hair.

He was eventually clean bowled by Alzarri Joseph for 109 while trying to manufacture a shot through the leg side as England chased quick runs.

His century followed a 121 by Crawley, who was bowled by a Holder yorker, ending a 201-run partnership between the pair.

The second of a three-test series in the Caribbean starts in Bridgetown, Barbados on Wednesday.

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Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; Editing by Clare Fallon and Christian Radnedge

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