|Ground:||Lord's Cricket Ground, St John's Wood|
|Scorecard:||England v West Indies|
DateLine: 21st May 2012
England win first Test by 5 wickets
In association with Investec.
It wasn't until causing another bit of concern to England that West Indies finally went down by five wickets an hour after lunch on the fifth day of the first Investec Test. It took a solid fifth wicket stand of 132 between Alastair Cook and Ian Bell to bring stability to the innings after England had been rocked back on their heels on 57 for four still 134 runs short of their target. Cook played some fine strokes in striking ten boundaries in his score of 79 over three and a quarter hour while Bell remained unbeaten with 63, his second half century of the match and his 31st in Tests.
The match will be remembered also for the colossal performance of the diminutive West Indian Shivnarine Chanderpaul without whose efforts in scoring 87 and 91 in the two innings over ten and a half hours at the crease the tourists would not have been able to extend the match well into the fifth day. For England Stuart Broad fully deserved to be man of the match with his outstanding bowling which gave him a match haul of 11 for 165 and the first England bowler to have taken ten wickets in a Test at Lord’s since Ian Botham 34 years ago.
West Indies captain Darren Sammy, speaking after the match said: "We are quite pleased that we took the game into the fifth day, we were told that no tickets for the fifth day had been printed (his side was expected to lose within four days) and the team continued to show a never-say-die-attitude which we promised to bring out (on tour) to England. We had some good performances from some of the players and we’ll take these positives into the next Test."
After shocking England shortly before close of play on the previous evening grabbing two wickets for ten, West Indies pace bowlers further lifted their hopes with two more wickets in the first ten overs after England had resumed on 10 for two. Kemar Roach, who had taken both wickets on the fourth day's final session, struck again when he found the outside edge of Jonathan Trott's bat with a ball that was just a little short and to which the batsman had played forward to edge a catch to second slip. He had hit two fours, one each off Fidel Edwards and Roach before the latter struck. The wicket gave Roach figures of 3 for twelve in just 4.2 overs at that point.
Six overs later with the first bowling change, Shannon Gabriel having replaced Edwards, reduced the home side to 57 for four. Kevin Pietersen, on 13, tried to smack to leg got a thin bottom edge. He played a similar shot to the previous ball which resulted in a boundary but this time the ball did not rise quite as much nor was it that much shorter. At that stage, the balance of play had certainly tilted a bit in favour of the tourists but it wasn't to last far long.
Cook and Bell combined well to hold the innings intact as they gradually picked up runs. While Bell progressed steadily, Cook pulled Gabriel for four to reach 22 and the England 100 soon came up in the 25th over. The 50 of the partnership took 74 balls and Cook, having pulled Darren Sammy for four to get to 48 brought up his 29th Test half century, from 78 balls, in the following over with a lovely cut for four off Marlon Samuels.
Bell was content with singles and two's and had just two boundaries in his first 44 runs. He then got to 48 coming down the pitch to lift a ball from Samuels straight for four. His half century followed three balls later, having faced 84 balls, while Cook sent Samuels to the third man boundary to take his score to 73 as England neared their target. The two batsmen had taken full control of the game but just two runs short of the target Cook played a cut, off Sammy, only to be held low at gully. England were 189 for five and in the next over Bell hit the winning runs with a crisp drive to the mid-wicket boundary, off Samuels, to go one up in the three-Test series.
England captain, Andrew Strauss said: "It was getting a bit harder for us, but we always had faith that the wicket was going to stay very flat and pretty slow so there was always a case of negotiating the new ball and then things would be more simple." He added: "Whenever you are chasing a score in Test cricket there is always a bit of pressure on your shoulders and that's why I thought it was an outstanding performance from Cook and Bell to get us up to the line. I think they played in a professional and classy manner and in the end it wasn’t too difficult."
(Article: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author only.
Copyright © 2012 Andy Jalil)