Bridgetown (Barbados): England all-rounder Ben Stokes smashed a superb century to add to the 153-run knock by skipper Joe Root as the tourists tightened their grip on the second Test against the West Indies with a 507/9 declared on Day 2 at the Kensington Oval on Friday (IST).
Debutant right-arm pace bowler Matthew Fisher then took a wicket with just his second delivery as West Indies reached 71 for the loss of one wicket at Stumps.
The 30-year-old Stokes’ century (120 off 128 balls) was his first since returning to the England set-up in late 2021 and came in spectacular fashion, with the all-rounder hitting six maximums in his blistering knock. An emotional Stokes looked skyward on reaching a century for the 11th time in his career.
Alongside Stokes’ knock, Root reached 150 for the 12th time in his Test career on a strong batting day for his side, and lower-order runs from Ben Foakes and Chris Woakes helped England post 507/9 declared.
Fisher then struck with the new ball off just his second delivery in international cricket to have John Campbell caught behind. West Indies closed on 71/1, still 436 runs in arrears with three days’ play remaining.
England had resumed on 244/3, with captain Root out in the middle on 119 not out and Stokes fresh to the crease after Dan Lawrence had fallen in the final over of the first day for 91. Root and Stokes kept accumulating runs in the first half of the morning session, taking the sting out of a ball that was just five overs old at the start of play.
Stokes signalled his attacking intent with two massive sixes midway through the morning, and the all-rounder reached his half-century, moving beyond 5,000 career Test runs in the process, with a third maximum straight down the ground.
Runs flowed at a remarkable rate for the remainder of the session, with Root content to let Stokes have the strike as the all-rounder closed in on his century in the run-up to lunch. There was a slight setback when Root was trapped in-front by Kemar Roach shortly after the restart, with the decision made after a review from the home side.
Stokes reined himself in with new batter Jonny Bairstow alongside him in the middle, nudging his way through the 90s before turning a ball away for a quick single to bring up an 11th Test century of his career.
A scratchy knock from Bairstow came to an end when he was caught off Alzarri Joseph for 20. But England’s No. 5 looked set to go big when he smashed Kraigg Brathwaite for consecutive sixes to move to 120, only to be caught in the deep as he looked to make it a hat-trick of maximums off the West Indies skipper. Eyeing a score in excess of 500, England’s Foakes and Woakes quietly went about their business, with the pair playing some strokes after the break, with Foakes’ 33 and Woakes 41 helping England up to 507.
It is just the fourth time under Root’s captaincy that England have reached 500, and the skipper took advantage of the unusual situation by declaring when Jack Leach fell to Veerasammy Permaul.
Debutant Fisher found the edge of Campbell’s bat with the second ball of the second over to get his Test career off to a fine start. But England’s attack strived a little too hard for further breakthroughs, with Kraigg Brathwaite (28 not out) and Shamarh Brooks (31 not out) playing through to the close.
Brief scores: England 507/9 decl (Joe Root 153, Dan Lawrence 91, Ben Stokes 120, Chris Woakes 41; Veerasammy Permaul 3/126) vs West Indies 71/1 (Shamarh Brooks 31 not out).