Ali, Foakes spark England revival in 2nd Test

North Sound (Antigua and Barbuda) (AFP) –


Moeen Ali and Ben Foakes engineered a lower-order revival but England were still in trouble at 172 for six at tea on the opening day of the second Test of the three-match series at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in Antigua on Thursday.

Ali's unbeaten 55 and 32 not out from wicketkeeper-batsman Foakes lifted the visitors from the depths of 93 for six with an unbroken seventh-wicket stand worth 79 runs by the interval.

Under pressure to deliver with the bat after failing to score in both innings of England's 381-run humiliation in the first Test in Barbados a week earlier, Ali benefited from playing positively without being at his most fluent.

His innings has so far occupied 86 deliveries and was embellished by seven fours and six.

Foakes, who speculated before the match that he may have been dropped given an ongoing debate over the composition of the England final eleven, has so far offered solid support to Ali's naturally adventurous nature.

They had come together shortly after lunch when the visitors suffered a swift double-blow.

Jonny Bairstow was trapped leg-before for 52 to the third delivery of the afternoon session to give Kemar Roach his second wicket while Ben Stokes prodded indeterminately at a Shannon Gabriel thunderbolt to be caught behind.

Bairstow's entertaining innings came off 65 deliveries in which he struck nine fours and a six.

Put in at the start of the day on a green pitch, Alzarri Joseph took two wickets while Roach and skipper Jason Holder claimed the others to justify Holder's decision to bowl first on winning the toss as they reduced England to 55 for four.

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.

-- Denly misery --

He lost Joe Denly to a poor shot when the 33-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 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 Root's bat for a back-pedalling John Campbell at third slip to parry the ball upwards which allowed Shai Hope running around from gully to take a diving catch.

Jos Buttler, promoted ahead of Ben Stokes in what has become an increasingly vulnerable batting order so far in this series, was the fourth wicket to fall when he attempted to charge down the pitch at Holder only to edge a good length delivery to Campbell in the slips.

As anticipated, England recalled Stuart Broad to the final eleven after the senior seamer was surprisingly dropped for the first Test with leg-spinner Adil Rashid making way for the holder of 433 Test wickets.

Denly's opportunity at the top of the order 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.