Nkrumah Bonner and tall all-rounder Jason Holder managed to keep the England bowlers at bay with unbeaten 38 and 37, respectively as the West Indies safely batted out the final day of the opening Test to take the match to a draw at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium here on Sunday (IST).
England’s overnight batters Zak Crawley and Joe Root took the field on Day 5 with the intention to force a result. A rapid start to the day saw England add 132 in the morning session, with skipper Root reaching his 24th Test century.
Soon an aggressive declaration meant that the West Indies had a little over two sessions to survive, with a target of 286 realistically out of reach.
Jack Leach took three wickets as England pushed hard on a docile pitch throughout the remainder of the day, but a gritty fifth-wicket stand between Bonner and Holder removed the threat of a loss as the match ended in a draw.
England had resumed on 217/1 and immediately showed their intent as Crawley took the attack to the West Indies bowlers. A vicious yorker from Holder did the job on Crawley after his quick start, who walked off with 121 to his name, but new batter Dan Lawrence put the foot on the pedal right from the work go.
The England number four smashed five boundaries, including a maximum, in his knock of 37 from just 36 balls as the lead swelled at a rapid rate, with a declaration in mind. At the other end, Root calmly reached the century mark, adding the 16 runs he required to make it 24 hundreds in his Test career and a significant one given his move up to No. three for this series.
England’s aggressive approach with the bat saw wickets fall quickly, with Lawrence (37), Root (109), Ben Stokes (13) and Ben Foakes (1) all sent back as five wickets fell in the space of 15 overs.
But 132 runs came from the aggressive approach, and the declaration came 20 minutes before lunch with the score at 349/6, with Jonny Bairstow (15 not out) and Chris Woakes (18 not out) called back to the dressing room.
England knew they were without Mark Wood for the entire second innings due to his elbow injury, and immediately turned to Leach to lead the attack, with Woakes taking the new ball from the other end.
But wickets were hard to come by throughout the first Test on a relatively easy-paced pitch at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium, and openers Kraigg Brathwaite and John Campbell saw it through until lunch unscathed.
The opening pair seemed to have taken the sting out of the game as they made it to the 25-over mark at 59 without loss, scoring at a rate which showed they knew a successful run-chase was off the table.
Yet two wickets in two overs game England a sniff, with Stokes trapping Brathwaite lbw for 33 and Leach picking up his first wicket of the innings as he lured Campbell into a rare attacking shot that was grabbed by Craig Overton at mid-off. Leach was the danger-man for England, and picked up two wickets in two overs when he had Sharmah Brooks caught at slip and Jermaine Blackwood out lbw.
And with men around the bat and recognised batters running out, the pressure was on the West Indies. But Bonner, the century-maker from the West Indies, bedded in alongside Holder, and the chance of a positive result for England drifted away as the overs ticked past.
And, with just five of the day’s allocated deliveries remaining, Root opted to shake hands with the West Indies skipper at 147/4. Leach finished with figures of 3/57 from 30.1 overs, with Holder unbeaten on 37 from 101 deliveries and Bonner not out on 38 from 138 balls.
The teams will play the second Test at the Kensington Oval in Barbados from March 16.
Brief scores: England 311 and 349/6 decl (Zak Crawley 121, Joe Root 109, Dan Lawrence 37; Kemar Roach 2/53, Alzarri Joseph 3/78) drew with West Indies 375 and 147/4 (Kraigg Brathwaite 33, Nkrumah Bonner 38 not out, Jason Holder 37 not out; Jack Leach 3/57).