After the crushing defeat in the first Test, if someone told you that Windies would make a stunning comeback and level the series at Headingley, you would have laughed off the argument. Who would have thought the side that looked depleted after a loss at Edgbaston by an innings and 209 runs would make a dramatic turnaround to win the next match?
It was a terrific game of cricket and the one to cherish for the Caribbean team. Shai Hope and Kraigg Brathwaite played the 2 innings of their lifetimes. The English bowlers bowled their hearts out but they did not find any answer to the resilience of Hope. It was one heck of a match and the one that every cricket lover wants to see.
Here’s how the script at Headingley panned out
Windies bowlers laid the foundation
England won the toss and opted to bat first. After a crushing defeat in the first game, the visitors could have easily lost the hope after losing the toss. But the exact opposite happened as the fast bowlers were all over the English batting line-up. Shanon Gabriel and Kemar Roach bowled brilliantly with the new ball and left the hosts reeling at 37/3.
Joe Root hung in there for a while and scored 59 runs. But after his dismissal, at 140/5, they were in danger of being bowled out cheaply. The ever reliable Ben Stokes stepped up and scored a magnificent hundred to take the side to 258. Roach and Gabriel ended up with 4 wickets each as they halted the opposition to a mediocre total.
Brathwaite and Hope’s grit
James Anderson wreaked havoc in the Windies line-up as he removed the top 3 inside 35 runs. It seemed as if the visitors would go down once again. But Kraigg Brathwaite and Shai Hope stuck together and provided the much-needed stability to the innings.
Both scored their individual hundreds and shared a composed stand of 246 runs that gave them an edge in the game. Some late fireworks from Jermaine Blackwood and the skipper Jason Holder powered the side to 427, gaining a valuable lead of 169 runs. In the context of the game, it was massive and for the first time on the tour, Windies were in the driver’s seat.
The hosts fought back
The English side was determined to put in a better performance in the second innings and it was evident from the way every batsman applied himself in the middle. The Windies bowlers tried hard but the hosts were adamant to get a massive lead.
There were 6 half-centurions namely Mark Stoneman, Joe Root, Dawid Malan, Ben Stokes, Moeen Ali and Chris Woakes. A collective batting performance took them to 490/8, just when Root decided to declare the innings. A target of 322 seemed too big as the English sensed a second win on the trot.
A stunning chase
The Windies’ batsmen had an uphill task but they were definitely up for it from the start. An opening partnership of 46 between Brathwaite and Kieran Powell gave them the platform from the where the middle-order could take over. but Kyle Hope got out without scoring and at 53/2, the odds swung in favor of the hosts.
But it was the gritty duo of Brathwaite and Shai Hope again that became a nightmare for England. Once again, they were up for the challenge. They blocked the good deliveries and cashed in on the lose ones. A partnership of 144 kept that in the hunt. Brathwaite fell agonizingly close to his second hundred in the match as Moeen Ali sent him back for 95.
But his partner carried on to achieve what he missed. Hope brought up his second century in the match and became the only batsman to do so in any first-class match at the venue. He first found an able partner in Roston Chase who scored 30 and then Jermaine Blackwood who threw a kitchen sink at the English bowlers.
The last session of the final day showcased some of the best Test cricket you’ll ever see. The clouds were hovering over, the required runs were decreasing and so were the remaining overs. Blackwood played a quickfire 41 off 45 and took care of the run-rate. Hope, at the other end, maintained his usual demeanour and kept knocking the runs down.
The English fielders did not help themselves as they dropped a couple of catches to let the batsmen live another day. The runs kept ticking down and Root kept running out of ideas. Blackwood fell when just 2 runs were needed but Hope ensured no further damage. Fittingly, he scored the winning runs and took his side to an astonishing victory.
England 1st innings: 258/10 in 70.5 overs
Ben Stokes 100, Joe Root 59
Shannon Gabriel 51/4, Kemar Roach 71/4
Windies 1st innings: 427/10 in 127 overs
Shai Hope 147, Kraigg Brathwaite 134
James Anderson 76/5
England 2nd innings: 490/8 declared in 141 overs
Moeen Ali 84, Joe Root 72
Roston Chase 86/3
Windies 2nd innings: 322/5 in 91.2 overs
Shai Hope 118, Kraigg Brathwaite 95
Moeen Ali 76/2
Windies won by 5 wickets
Player of the match: Shai Hope