Windies off to positive start in pursuit of 318

England put West Indies under early pressure before tea in the opening Test on Thursday, but the new video referral system brought the second day into sharper focus.

At the break on the second day of the Test at Sabina Park, West Indies, replying to England’s first innings total of 318, reached 63 for one with Chris Gayle not out on 33 and Ramnaresh Sarwan not out on 22.

England claimed the scalp of Devon Smith for six, when he was adjudged lbw, after he completely missed the flight path of a delivery from Andrew Flintoff, and was struck on his left boot.

Umpire Tony Hill initially gave ”not-out”, but under the new decision review system, the batsman was dismissed after referral to the video umpire.

But two other referrals went against the visitors and this meant they were docked one of the two allowed to the fielding team in each innings.

The first of the two confirmed that Ramnaresh Sarwan was clearly not out, when on two, Flintoff appealed for an lbw verdict for a delivery that was clearly heading down the leg-side.

The second saved Sarwan from being dismissed on five, when he was struck playing back to an off-cutter from Steve Harmison, and Hill adjudged him lbw.

But England’s bowlers were not as consistent as they would have liked, and there were some exciting strokes from Gayle and Sarwan.

Gayle struck two mighty sixes over long-on off Flintoff, and over mid-wicket off Harmison, while Sarwan emerged from a shaky start with consecutive boundaries off Stuart Broad.

England’s first innings ended about 20 minutes after lunch, when Steve Harmison and Monty Panesar both fell lbw with both batsmen unsuccessfully challenging their dismissals.

Sulieman Benn was West Indies’ most successful bowler with four wickets for 77 runs from 44,2 overs, Jerome Taylor took three for 74 from 20 overs, and Daren Powell grabbed two for 54 from 20 overs.

Before lunch, Matt Prior completed a purposeful half-century that helped to frustrate West Indies and reach 311 for eight at the interval.

England suffered an early setback, after they continued from their overnight total of 236 for five, when Flintoff was caught at backward point for 43 off Powell chasing a short, wide, rising ball.

The visitors then stumbled to 256 for seven, when Broad was caught at gully for four slicing a drive off Taylor.

For the next 45 minutes, Prior and Ryan Sidebottom stemmed the fall of wickets with a stand of 32 for the eighth wicket.

Prior reached his 50, when he edged a big drive at a delivery from Powell and the ball flew just wide of the second slip fielder Smith on its way to the third man boundary for the fifth of his seven fours.

But Prior paid for his petulance, when he tried to launch an attack on beanpole left-arm spin bowler Benn and was caught and bowled about 45 minutes before the interval to fully expose the England tail.

Harmison came to the crease, gave solid support to Sidebottom, and they ensured England would not be dismissed before lunch.

Sidebottom, however, was fortunate on seven, when Shivnarine Chanderpaul put down a skier, running back at mid-off from the bowling of the wicket-less Fidel Edwards.

The series continues with Tests in Antigua (February 13 to 17), Barbados (February 26 to March 2) and Trinidad (March 2 to 6). — Sapa

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