(Reuters) – An astonishing day two ended with West Indies in a strong but not necessarily impregnable position against England, 339 runs ahead in their second innings with four wickets remaining in the first test in Barbados on Thursday.
Eighteen wickets fell on a Kensington Oval pitch that despite the carnage seemed quite decent for batting, as England were bowled out for 77, the lowest ever test score in Bridgetown.
Kemar Roach was the chief destroyer, ripping through the batting lineup and taking five for 17 off 11 fiery overs as England crumbled to their fourth-lowest total in a test against West Indies.
Roach headed a four-pronged Windies bowling attack that turned back the clock with scenes reminiscent of the halcyon days of the 1970s, when the likes of Andy Roberts and Joel Garner regularly terrorised the world’s best batsmen.
Roach was well supported by captain Jason Holder (2-15), Alzarri Joseph (2-20) and Shannon Gabriel (1-15), all getting plenty of bounce and enough movement to tie the batsmen in knots.
Holder picked up the prized scalp of Joe Root with a magnificent delivery that nipped in and trapped the England captain lbw for four.
West Indies, who did not enforce the follow-on, enjoyed a 212-run lead, a most unlikely scenario after being all out for 289 earlier on Thursday.
But a day of unlikely swings was not done as the Windies then lost five wickets for only nine runs after an uneventful half-century second innings opening partnership between Kraigg Brathwaite and John Campbell.
England spinner Mooen Ali picked up three quick scalps in an outstanding spell that suggested the pitch also offers something for the slow bowlers, while paceman Ben Stokes chimed in with a pair of wickets.
At 61 for five, England were suddenly back in the match, but there was another twist to come as Shimron Hetmyer and Shane Dowrich steadied the ship with a partnership of 59.
With stumps looming, the impressive Hetmyer was out for 31, caught at point off medium-pacer Sam Curran.
West Indies were 127 for six at stumps, with Dowrich (27) and Holder (7) to resume on Friday.
Earlier, the home team lost their final six wickets for 49 in their first innings.
Pace bowler James Anderson equalled an Ian Botham and England record when he took his 27th five-wicket haul.
He picked up one more scalp on Thursday morning — tailender Joseph for a duck — as the Windies added 25 runs to their overnight total, with England taking nearly an hour to mop up the final two wickets.
Anderson finished with five for 46 off 30 tight overs, while Stokes chipped in with 4-59.
Hetmyer was the last man out, caught behind off Stokes going for an agricultural slog.
Hetmyer, who will play for Virat Kohli’s Royal Challengers Bangalore in the Indian Premier League which starts in March, top-scored with an impressive, hard-hitting 81 off 109 balls.
The teams are playing a three-test series in the Caribbean.
(Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; Editing by Christian Radnedge/Toby Davis/Ken Ferris)