West Indies wobble to set up thrilling climax
Close West Indies 395 and 161 for 9 (Sarwan 60) lead England 330 (Thorpe 114, Bravo 6-55) by 226 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
The morning session may have belonged to West Indies, but England dominated the final two extended passages of play on the fourth day at Old Trafford and reduced West Indies to 161 for 9, an overall lead of 226, when bad light ended play on another absorbing day.
West Indies went into their second innings with a handy 65-run advantage thanks to an inspired spell of bowling from Dwayne Bravo, who took 6 for 55 - his first five-wicket haul in a Test - as England were bowled out for 330. England's batting was held together by Graham Thorpe, who ground out his 15th Test century despite suffering a hairline fracture to his right-hand little finger after being struck by a short ball from Fidel Edwards in the morning.
In a stodgy first session West Indies managed only 22 overs in two hours, and England collected only 65 runs, 21 of which were extras. There were some highlights, though: Matthew Hoggard did an excellent job as nightwatchman, actually outscoring Thorpe while they were together, and Edwards bowled with searing pace, consistently above 90mph. He struck Thorpe with consecutive bouncers shortly before the drinks break. The first - the one that broke his hand - angled in sharply and bounced, and the next clattered into his helmet and flew to third man for a bye.
Thorpe moved to 99 with a single to fine leg, which also brought up the 50 partnership, and two overs later reached his hundred, amid thunderous applause, with a clip off his legs for yet another single. However, West Indies finally took the wicket of Hoggard in the same over, edging to Ramnaresh Sarwan at second slip, where he took a juggling catch (283 for 6).
Pedro Collins, who had to leave the field yesterday after being struck on the chin by an Andrew Flintoff bouncer, should have been rewarded with the prized wicket of Thorpe, but Sarwan dropped a straightforward catch at slip to give Thorpe another life. Sarwan's fielding has been fallible during this Test: he dropped Thorpe off Dave Mohammed when he was on 58 yesterday, and was lucky to hold on to that edge off Hoggard shortly before this one.
Following a few quiet overs after lunch, Thorpe edged a wide one from Bravo to first slip, where Brian Lara did hold on to a good low catch (310 for 7). Geraint Jones became Bravo's fifth victim when an inside edge cannoned into the stumps (321 for 8), and three balls later Ashley Giles made it six, smashing back a return catch that Bravo took well (322 for 9). Stephen Harmison and James Anderson scratched around for two-and-a-half overs before Harmison wandered across to a straight one from Collins and was trapped in front to end the innings.
West Indies started their second innings confidently, but Sylvester Joseph gave his wicket away, lobbing a catch straight to Michael Vaughan at cover after lashing out at one from Flintoff that wasn't really full enough to drive (41 for 1). Anderson came on for his first spell after the break, and was immediately slapped imperiously through the covers by Chris Gayle, who was then almost out attempting a similar shot in Anderson's next over. Gayle sliced a drive hard and in the air to Alastair Bressington, the substitute from Gloucestershire fielding on for Thorpe, but he failed to hold on to a difficult chance running in from deep cover.
An incredible 51 overs were scheduled to be bowled after tea, and Giles began by bowling very economically, going for less than two an over. He eventually frustrated Gayle into trying an over-ambitious lofted shot that was well caught by a tumbling Hoggard at long-on for 42 (88 for 2), and Lara came out to bat on a pair. He was comfortably off the mark from his first delivery, pushing a short one from Giles through the covers for three, and then brought up his 10,000th run in Test cricket with a flashing drive that flew past a diving Anderson at point and went for four. Lara is the fourth player to reach the milestone, after Steve Waugh, Allan Border and Sunil Gavaskar, but his celebrations were short-lived, as before he'd added any more a short, fast lifter looped up off the glove to Andrew Strauss at second slip (95 for 3).
After a short, typically fidgety innings, Shivnarine Chanderpaul failed for the first time in the series. Flintoff cramped him for room with another short one, Vaughan took a simple catch off a top-edged pull, and he was out for 2 (99 for 4).
Bravo opened his account with a four to third man off Giles, but soon edged a sweep onto his pad and was caught by Flintoff, running back from slip (110 for 5). Carlton Baugh scored lots of runs with uppercuts over the slips in the first innings, but got out the first time he played that shot today, guiding Harmison straight to a relieved Bressington at third man (121 for 6). Mohammed had barely played himself in when he charged down the pitch at Giles and aimed a huge swipe towards long-on. He didn't make much contact, and was saved by a thin inside edge that squirted past the stumps and wicketkeeper down to fine leg.
Meanwhile, Sarwan moved to 49 with a cracking drive through the covers off Harmison, brought up his half-century with a scampered single, and celebrated with another four through point. Mohammed continued to struggle against Giles's guile, and after edging a cut just past slip and giving another stumping chance, he fell to a smart catch at short leg by Robert Key (146 for 7).
Sarwan was the next to go: after battling to 60, he edged Harmison to Marcus Trescothick at first slip. Sarwan wasn't sure the ball had carried, but he was given out by the umpire and had to go (152 for 8).
Harmison then bowled Collins with a fast swinging yorker that added to his injuries by smashing him on the toe before hitting the stumps (161 for 9), but the light was fading quickly, and Edwards and Corey Collymore readily accepted the umpires' offer to go off.
England bowled very well today, and might seem to have set themselves up for yet another victory. However, Old Trafford's history is against them: the highest winning fourth-innings total here is only 145 for 7, and that was scored by South Africa way back in 1955. Fourteen wickets fell today, and West Indies will only need ten tomorrow to pull off a win themselves. This Test match is certainly not over yet.