Gros Islet - Roston Chase provided some resistance with an unbeaten half-century but England remained well on course for a crushing victory over the West Indies at tea on the fourth day of the third and final Test at the Darren Sammy Stadium in St Lucia on Tuesday.
Set the improbable target of 485 after Joe Root declared his side's second innings at 361 for five following his dismissal for 122 after half-an-hour’s play, the home team were tottering before lunch at ten for three courtesy of James Anderson but have recovered somewhat to reach the tea interval at 136 for six.
Chase, who came to the middle after a rampant Anderson had prised out Darren Bravo for his third wicket, batted through the afternoon session in reaching 53. He will have Kemar Roach as his partner when play resumes after the interval with England confident of mopping up the West Indies tail.
However the anticipation of a huge win will be tempered by the reality that it has come after suffering heavy defeats in the first two Tests, which gave the West Indies the series and possession of the Wisden Trophy for the first time in ten years.
Chase and Shimron Hetmyer put on 45 runs for the fifth wicket to provide a temporary halt to England’s victory march after lunch until they undid all their good work when, on the stroke of the mid-session water break, Hetmyer was run out for 19 coming back for a third run as Joe Denly’s throw from the cover boundary to wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow found the left-hander short of his ground.
Moeen Ali then added Shane Dowrich, caught by Ben Stokes at slip, to his tally of Test victims which now stands at 175.
Earlier, Anderson was at his destructive best in blowing away the West Indies top-order batting following Root’s declaration.
Mark Wood, whose raw pace earned him his first five-wicket innings haul in Tests on day two, removed Shai Hope just before lunch in complementing the senior seamer’s devastating early burst.
Anderson triggered the West Indies slide with just the third delivery of the innings when John Campbell, facing his first ball, sliced a booming drive to Ali at gully. Campbell’s opening partner, Kraigg Brathwaite, seems doomed to suffer yet another defeat as stand-in captain and offered little resistance himself to Anderson when he prodded indecisively at a full-length delivery and Stokes held the catch at second slip.
Worse was the follow for the West Indies when Bravo, troubled by a finger injury which kept him off the field for the entire England second innings, followed a delivery from Anderson for Root to complete a comfortable catch at first slip.
England clearly had a swift declaration on their minds at the start of the day’s play with Root and Stokes resuming at 325 for four. They belted 36 runs at a run-a-minute until the skipper miscued a low full-toss from Shannon Gabriel and Hetmyer held the catch diving forward at midwicket to prompt the declaration.