All-round Ben Stokes was the star of the test, yet again, as England beat West Indies by 113 runs on the fifth and final day of the second Test at the Old Trafford on Monday to level the three-match series 1-1.
Stokes set up England’s victory with a majestic 176 in the first innings as he stitched a 260-run partnership with fellow centurion Dom Sibley (120) to take England to a commanding 469/9.
In reply, the Windies managed 287, riding on half-centuries by Kraigg Brathwaite (75), Shamarh Brooks (68) and Roston Chase (51). With one day wasted due to rain, England needed a breezy innings from someone to post a challenging target for the tourists, and Stokes was at it again, hitting a quickfire 57-ball 78 to set the Windies a target of 312.
In their second essay, the Windies folded for 198 in a tense finish on Day 5 with Brooks (62) and Jermaine Blackwood (55) managing fifties which went in vain.
A draw looked possible at one point when Blackwood and Brooks shared a 100-run stand for the fifth wicket, but once Stokes removed Blackwood with a superb bouncer which tied the batsman as he holed out to wicketkeeper Jos Buttler, it was England all the way as Dom Bess and Chris Woakes cleaned up the lower order.
Stokes showed his impeccable commitment as he chased a Blackwood punch down the ground off his own bowling just before tea. The red cherry found the fence but not before England’s World Cup hero dived in his attempt to stop it.
Stokes also bowled long and probing spells, finishing the match with three wickets. Stuart Broad claimed three wickets to raise England hopes of a series-levelling win early on.
The West Indies top-order batsmen fell like a pack of cards in the second innings after Stokes’ batting masterclass in the opening session of the day took the hosts to 129/3 before skipper Joe Root declared.
Veteran pacer Broad, who had said after the fourth day’s play that England will go for the win, started on a perfect note as he dismissed opener John Campbell in the first over itself.
Brathwaite and Shai Hope then joined forces in the middle and kept the bowlers at bay briefly till the former was adjudged LBW off the bowling of Chris Woakes for 12.
Hope was next to head back to the pavillion as he was comprehensively castled by Broad. After lunch, Roston Chase was trapped in front by Broad to reduce the tourists to 37/4 before Brooks and Blackwood joined hands.
Brief Scores: England 469/9d and 129/3d (Stokes 78*; Roach 2/37) vs West Indies 287 all out and 198 all out (Brooks 62, Blackwood 55; Broad 3/42)