Recalled Wood fires England to St Lucia lead

By Sports Desk February 10, 2019

Mark Wood shone on his international return with a first five-wicket Test haul as England removed West Indies for 154 before building up a 142-run lead at stumps.

With England having already lost the three-match series, Wood was recalled for his first Test appearance since May 2018 and made up for lost time with a devastating spell that included a pair of wickets in his first over.

Joe Root's team had earlier slumped to 277 all out - having started the day 231-4 - but Wood and Moeen Ali (4-36) tore through the Windies and earned England a 123-run first-innings lead.

Rory Burns and Keaton Jennings then saw England to the close with their 10 wickets intact as the tourists enjoyed a rare position of dominance on the second day.

Jos Buttler and Ben Stokes had both made half-centuries on Saturday but the former failed to add to his overnight 67 when bowled by Shannon Gabriel.

Stokes moved on to 79 - his best Test score since he was involved in an incident outside a Bristol nightclub in 2017 that resulted in a suspension - but when his mistimed hook off Kemar Roach was brilliantly taken by a diving Shane Dowrich, England unravelled.

They would add just 21 runs for the loss of their final five wickets, Roach accounting for Jonny Bairstow, Wood and James Anderson to finish with 4-48, while Moeen gave Alzarri Joseph his second wicket.

West Indies openers Kraigg Brathwaite and John Campbell had made 50 partnerships in three of their previous four innings in the series - with the other alliance unbroken at 17 in reaching a victory target - and once again they made a solid start.

Anderson eventually played a part in the first wicket, though as the fielder, flying around from cow corner after Brathwaite (12) had launched Moeen into the air.

Campbell (41) was pinned in front next ball and West Indies soon went from 57 without loss to 59-4, with Wood having an immediate impact.

His opening deliveries, some of which reached 90 miles per hour, troubled Shai Hope and so it was no surprise to see him slice to Burns at gully, the same fielder then hanging to another chance to send Roston Chase back for a golden duck.

Wood's extra pace was proving too much and he found Shimron Hetmyer's outside edge before tea, Root holding on at the second attempt at first slip.

Durham seamer Wood then had four wickets for the first time in a Test with his seventh ball of the third session, Darren Bravo picking out Root again in the cordon.

Keemo Paul (9) and Dowrich (38) managed to take the hosts into three figures, though the former would perish when stumped off Moeen.

Dowrich eventually fell lbw to Stuart Broad, who then took a brilliant one-handed catch from over his head after Joseph launched Moeen into the sky.

That left both Moeen and Wood on four wickets each, and it was the latter who would finish with five as he rattled Gabriel's stumps.

Burns (10) and Jennings (8) then negotiated  the final 10 overs of the day without much drama - though the former almost edged to first slip in the final over - to raise hopes of a consolation victory for England.

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    A controversial selection ahead of the ICC World Cup, Brathwaite had struggled to make any real impression at the tournament.  In three prior matches, his best scores were 16 against Australia and 14 against England.  He was dropped for Bangladesh and possibly only selected for New Zealand because of the injury to Andre Russell.

    His sensational knock against New Zealand, however, resembled the player who promised so much after taking the West Indies over the line against England at the 2016 T20 World Cup.  With the Windies on the ropes, Brathwaite finally showed up and earned plenty of plaudits despite his efforts falling just short.

    "It is a cliché to say that it doesn't matter if you don't win, but for me personally, for my confidence, it is a result of all the hard work that I put in," Brathwaite told Espncricinfo.

    "It is finally good that it has come to fruition. I continue to work hard. Obviously heartbreaking to not get over the line but I give thanks for the performance and being able to get the team in the position that I was able to,” he added.

  • South Africa suffering confidence crisis - Du Plessis South Africa suffering confidence crisis - Du Plessis

    Faf du Plessis believes South Africa have failed to do themselves justice at the Cricket World Cup, after a 49-run defeat to Pakistan extinguished their semi-final hopes.

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    "We're not doing ourselves justice as a team, with the skill that's in that dressing room.

    "We started poorly with the ball and gave them a good start. And once again we made the same mistakes with the bat, guys getting in and then getting out.

    "We need to have a good start but we haven't had that. We're losing a wicket early almost all of the time. That's been the nature through the tournament, the timing of the wickets.

    "We're struggling with confidence, especially in our batting line-up. Confidence in sport is an amazing thing.

    "When you're playing well, the ball just falls more for you. Our confidence is low after a few games and everything becomes a little bit more challenging, especially playing against a quality team like Pakistan."

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    South Africa were put out of their Cricket World Cup misery at Lord's, where the team's shortcomings at this tournament were exposed by Pakistan.

    Pakistan may soon follow Sunday's opponents out of semi-final contention yet they eased to a 49-run victory, their 308-7 never under threat. South Africa finished on 259-9.

    Defeats to England, Bangladesh, India and New Zealand put South Africa in a perilous position before this game. They have fixtures against Sri Lanka and Australia to come, but surely cannot get home soon enough now mathematical hopes of advancing from the group stage are over.

    The South Africans edged Pakistan 3-2 in a home ODI series in January but their bowling - without the injured Dale Steyn - has failed to impress at the World Cup.

    Pakistan chose to bat and openers Imam-ul-Haq and Fakhar Zaman both made 44 before falling to Imran Tahir, who in the process became South Africa's leading wicket-taker in World Cup history. His 39 victims nudge Tahir ahead of Allan Donald.

    Babar Azam scored 69 before Haris Sohail pummelled 89 from 59 balls, falling to the penultimate delivery of the innings when he slogged at Lungi Ngidi.

    In reply, South Africa lost Hashim Amla to a duck at the start of the second over, Mohammad Amir given the lbw verdict after Pakistan went to a review.

    And although Quinton de Kock and captain Faf du Plessis put on 87 for the second wicket, it was often slow going. De Kock went for 47 and Du Plessis for 63.

    The scoreboard kept ticking over, the run rate kept climbing. South Africa were never at the races, typical of them in this ill-fated campaign.


    PAKISTAN MUST KEEP BELIEVING

    With matches against New Zealand, Afghanistan and Bangladesh to come, Pakistan could still squeeze into the semi-finals. Their batting performance was solid enough in this match, albeit against a largely impotent attack, and if Amir can put the brakes on Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor and Co. at Edgbaston on Wednesday, then New Zealand's unbeaten start could be under threat. They have a glimmer of hope now.

    PROTEAS PAIN

    Questions will be asked about where it all went wrong for South Africa. Dale Steyn's absence was a major blow to their hopes, but they began the tournament badly and lacked the guile to set the team back on a sure course. Will Du Plessis stay on as skipper? That is sure to come in for scrutiny, with Aiden Markram having been tipped in some quarters as a suitable replacement despite his struggles with the bat. The inquest can begin now.

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