Jos Buttler might have silenced a few critics enroute his 56 from 120 balls on the first day of the third Test against West Indies at Manchester on Friday. Especially when the knock came at the backdrop of severe criticism regarding his form.
But what would have been more satisfying for him would be that his innings, along with that of Ollie Pope’s 91 not out bailed England out of trouble. From 122/4 to 258/4, the duos unbeaten 136-run partnership ensured England ended the day on a high.
After being put into bat by the West Indies, the visitors made the best use of the overcast conditions as Kemar Roach got previous match’s centurion — Dom Sibley for a duck. Roach was bowling with a lot of sting and venom, and so was Shannon Gabriel. But the pair of Rory Burns and Joe Root combined well to take the score to 47, before the latter was run out for 17, thanks to brilliant bit of fielding by Roston Chase.
Again a small partnership was starting to flourish between Burns and Stokes. But Roach cleaned Stokes up after peppering him with a few short balls. Despite the loss of wickets of the other end, Burns went about his business and scored yet another fifty. He looked good for more, but a stunning catch from Rakheem Cornwall, off Chase, undid all the hard yards that he had put in his innings of 57.
England were reeling at 122/4 and needed a big partnership. And that is where Buttler and Pope showed their class. Both the players were a little slow off the blocks and scored at snail’s pace during the second session of the day. But that came to a complete change in the third session and Pope guided the way with a few cracking pulls.
On the other end, Buttler too found his groove and smacked Cornwall for two sixes in the same over. And that proved detrimental in breaking the confidence of the opposition bowlers. From there on the English side never looked back and kept scoring runs at will.
While Pope hit 11 fours, Buttler hit five fours and two towering sixes. The day’s play abruptly came to a halt during the 86th over of the day due to bad light, but not before England had scored 258/4.