MANCHESTER, July 16: Dom Sibley and Ben Stokes restored some calm for England after a rocky start to the second test on and off the field on Thursday, putting on an unbeaten 126-run partnership to lead the team to 207-3 against West Indies on Day 1.
England began the day by excluding superstar paceman Jofra Archer from the match for breaching isolation protocols, before slumping to 81-3 on a decent batting track after losing the toss and then two batsmen in two balls to Roston Chase�s easy offbreaks.
Sibley, a right-hand opener content with just sticking around with his cautious style, was joined by Stokes midway through the second session and they plotted their way through 50.4 overs to the close at Old Trafford.
Sibley was on 86 not out, his second-highest test score in just his eighth match and Stokes was unbeaten on 59.
Leading 1-0 in the three-match series after a win in Southampton last week, the West Indies never quite lost control on the opening day�s play as they began their bid to clinch a first series in England in 32 years.
But their pacemen weren�t as threatening in gloomy conditions in Manchester as they were at the Rose Bowl a few days ago, with only Alzarri Joseph taking a wicket among them. It was a big one, too, as he enticed a drive from returning England captain Joe Root, who was caught in the slips for 23.
The radar of fellow fast bowler Shannon Gabriel, man of the match in Southampton with nine wickets, was off all day. He had to abort his run-up on his first intended ball of the innings, bowled a wide with the second, then went for four wides in the very same over.
Gabriel went off injured at the end of the morning session and never looked right after returning to the field, with another of his deliveries going so wide it stung the fingers of captain Jason Holder at second slip.
It was left to Chase to take a double, and they were in successive balls. He trapped opener Rory Burns (15) lbw with the last ball of the morning session England went to lunch 29-1 after an hour�s play following a delayed start because of wet weather.
England 1st innings: RJ Burns lbw b Chase 15, DP Sibley not out 86, Z Crawley c Holder b Chase 0, JE Root (c) c Holder b Joseph 23, BA Stokes not out 59. Extras: (b 4, w 9) 24. Total: (For 3 wickets in 82 overs) 207. Fall of wickets: 1-29, 2-29, 3-81. Bowling: KAJ Roach 20-4-37-0, ST Gabriel 10-1-32-0, AS Joseph 15-3-4-1, JO Holder 20-8-33-0, RL Chase 16-1-53-2, KC Brathwaite 1-0-1-0.