West Indies again learnt the hard way about the agony of dropping catches when Joe Root gathered an undefeated 119 and Dan Lawrence made 91 to put England in the ascendancy in the second Test on Wednesday here.
The Windies put down Root and Lawrence, and they shared 164 for the third wicket to propel the English to 244 for three in their first first innings at the close on the first day of the match on a lifeless Kensington Oval pitch.
Wicketkeeper Joshua da Silva put down Root, on 34, off Barbados Pride pacer Kemar Roach in the first half-hour after lunch, and Alzarri Joseph floored a chance from Lawrence, on 72, off fellow pacer Jayden Seales in the final half-hour before stumps.
But the tireless Jason Holder, armed with the second new ball, persevered and came up with the delivery that did the trick in the final over of the day, ending Lawrence’s search for his maiden Test hundred.
Holder conceded successive boundaries to Lawrence off the third and fourth balls of the over before the England batsman drove the fifth delivery uppishly to extra cover, where West Indies captain Kraigg Brathwaite gleefully accepted.
A near capacity crowd that included Prime Minister Mia Mottley, as well National Hero, the Right Excellent Sir Garfield Sobers, his contemporary, Sir Wes Hall, and the self-proclaimed “Universe Boss”, Chris Gayle, packed into the iconic for its first Test in three years.
Pacer Jayden Seales gave the few Windies fans that dotted the stands an early reason for celebration when he got opener Zak Crawley caught behind for a seventh-ball duck in the fourth over of the day, and England were four for one.
The Caribbean side, however, failed to make the deep cuts into the England batting that they desired, and Root and Alex Lees carried the visitors to 47 for one at lunch.
Roach, however, was left to grieve when wicketkeeper Joshua da Silva, diving down the leg-side, put down Root after the England captain glanced a wayward delivery in the fourth over after the interval.
Almost another hour passed before left-arm spinner Veerasammy Permaul gave West Indies a welcomed breakthrough when he got Alex Lees lbw for 30, playing back and across, after the England left-handed opener put on 76 for the second wicket with Root.
The Windies lost control when Lawrence arrived and showed positive intent, taking successive fours off Holder’s 11th over to get into stride, and with Root carried England to 136 for two at tea.
West Indies tried to regain control after tea, but Root and Lawrence were both eyeing personal milestones and joyfully reached them in the first hour after the break with both playing pulls off Seales for a single to reach 50 and 100, respectively.
A little before Brathwaite claimed the second new ball after the 85th over, Seales got Lawrence to edge to slip, where Joseph failed to hold onto a shoulder high chance, much to the chagrin of his pace bowling teammate.
West Indies are playing an unchanged line-up, but England made two changes, bringing in Saqib Mahmood and Matthew Fisher for their Test debuts to replace fellow pacers, Mark Wood (elbow injury) and Craig Overton (ill).
The Windies have not lost a Test to the English in nearly two decades at Kensington Oval, and they have lost only twice – in 1994 and 2004 – in the history of Tests between the two sides at the iconic ground.
The first of three Tests in this series ended in a draw this past Saturday at the Vivian Richards Cricket Ground in Antigua, and the final Test will be played from March 24 at the National Cricket Stadium in Grenada.
ENGLAND 244 for three (Joe Root 119 not out, Dan Lawrence 91, Alex Lees 30) vs WEST INDIES.