Antigua - Jonny Bairstow was fighting a lone counter-attacking hand as the West Indies fast bowlers again ripped through the England top order with the visitors stumbling to 78 for four at lunch on the opening day of the second Test in Antigua on Thursday.
Put in on a green pitch at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium which challenged the batsmen through pace and variable bounce, Alzarri Joseph took two wickets while Kemar Roach and Jason Holder claimed the others to justify Holder's decision to bowl first on winning the toss.
Pummelled by 381 runs in the first Test a week earlier in Barbados when they were routed by the four-pronged pace attack for 77 in the first innings before the spin of Roston Chase demolished them second time round, England were swiftly forced onto the back foot again with only Bairstow, who blazed his way to an unbeaten 52 off 62 balls with nine fours and one six, offering anything resembling substantial defiance.
The hosts will wrap up a rare Test series victory with a win this week.
Coming to the crease after opener Rory Burns, the tourists' topscorer in the first Test with 84 in the second innings, fell to a good low catch by Holder at second slip in the day's fifth over, Bairstow recognised the need to play positively given the bowler-friendly conditions and especially with wickets continuing to tumble.
He lost Joe Denly to a poor shot when the 32-year-old debutant, who took 15 deliveries to get his first Test run, chased Joseph's first delivery of the day –- a wide long-hop –- and only succeeded in edging a straightforward catch to wicketkeeper Shane Dowrich.
Captain Joe Root, facing fierce criticism in the wake of his side's abysmal showing in the series-opener, was left in an even more rueful state when Joseph produced a sharp lifter from off a good length which looped from the handle of his bat.
A back-pedalling John Campbell at third slip parried the ball upwards which allowed Shai Hope running around from gully to take a diving catch.
Despite Bairstow's unrestrained shot-making at the other end, England slipped to 55 for four when Jos Buttler, promoted ahead of Ben Stokes in what has become an increasingly vulnerable batting order so far in this series, attempted to charge down the pitch at Holder only to edge a good length delivery to Campbell in the slips.
Bairstow will have Stokes for company when England resume their innings after the interval.
As anticipated, England recalled Stuart Broad to the final XI after the senior seamer was surprisingly dropped for the first Test with leg-spinner Adil Rashid, who failed to have any impact in Barbados, making way for the holder of 433 Test wickets.
Denly's opportunity at the top of the order, which is not his specialist position in the first-class game for his English county, Kent, came at the expense of Keaton Jennings, the left-hander twice falling cheaply to catches in the slip cordon in the first Test.
Not surprisingly, the West Indies retained the same team which won the opening encounter by the widest run-margin ever for the home side in Test matches in the Caribbean.