BIRMINGHAM: England recovered from a typically stuttering start with the bat in their first day-night Test to move on to 108 for two at lunch on the opening day of the series against West Indies on Thursday.
The hosts lost debutant Mark Stoneman and Tom Westley for eight each to slump to 39 for two, before Alastair Cook (50 not out) and skipper Joe Root (40 not out) launched a strong fightback at Edgbaston.
The fifth day/night Test worldwide saw Root win the toss at 1:30pm local time (1230 GMT) under blue skies and on a good pitch.
The England captain would have been hoping for a steady opening partnership but Stoneman, making his debut as Cook’s latest partner, was bowled off-stump by a fine delivery from Kemar Roach.
After Cook got off the mark first ball, fellow left-hander Stoneman’s first two scoring shots in Test cricket were both fours before he perished without adding another run.
Stoneman is Cook’s 12th Test opening partner since Andrew Strauss retired five years ago.
Miguel Cummins trapped Westley, still to cement his place at No 3, lbw, the West Indies successfully reviewing the umpire Marais Erasmus’s not out decision to leave England in trouble at the start of the three-match series.
Cook England’s all-time leading Test run-scorer, and Root dug in, however, and took advantage of good batting conditions and wayward bowling with a flurry of crisp boundaries to give their side a solid platform.
But Cook, who had a lucky break when he edged West Indies captain Jason Holder through a gap in the slips, and Root repaired the damage with a succession of boundaries.
Cook, who hit 10 fours, brought up his fifty shortly before the interval and will have his sights firmly set on a 31st Test century.
England, fresh from beating South Africa 3-1, are strong favourites to overcome a callow West Indies side without many of their leading players due to contractual disputes with the country’s cricket board.
The fifth ever day-night Test and the first in England, played with an unfamiliar pink ball, was expected to offer the touring side their best chance to upset England.
ENGLAND (1st Innings):
A.N. Cook not out 50 M.D. Stoneman b Roach 8 T. Westley lbw b Cummins 8 J.E. Root not out 40
EXTRAS (W-2) 2
TOTAL (for two wkts, 27 overs) 108
FALL OF WKTS: 1-14, 2-39.
TO BAT: D.J. Malan, B.A. Stokes, J.M. Bairstow, M.M. Ali, T.S. Roland-Jones, S.C.J. Broad, J.M. Anderson.
BOWLING (to-date): Roach 8-2-32-1 (2w); Joseph 5-1-33-0; Cummins 7-2-21-1; Holder 6-2-20-0; Chase 1-0-2-0.
WEST INDIES: K.C. Brathwaite, K.O.A. Powell, K.A. Hope, S.D. Hope, R.L. Chase, J. Blackwood, S.O. Dowrich, J.O. Holder, K.A.J. Roach, A.S. Joseph, M.L. Cummins.
UMPIRES: M. Erasmus (South Africa) and S Ravi (India).
TV UMPIRE: C.B. Gaffaney (New Zealand).
MATCH REFEREE: D.C. Boon (Australia).
Published in Dawn, August 18th, 2017