England v West Indies, 2nd Investec Test, Headingley, 3rd day August 27, 2017

Root and Stoneman help even the scales as all-round Holder shines

England 258 and 171 for 3 (Root 45*, Malan 21*) lead West Indies 427 (S Hope 147, Brathwaite 134, Anderson 5-76) by two runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Play 04:04
Highlights - Stoneman, Root help England into lead

West Indies remained in a position to push for their first Test victory in England since 2000, in no small measure due to the all-round efforts of their captain Jason Holder, but Joe Root carried his team's hopes of being able to set a testing chase having been reprieved by West Indies' fielding for the second time in the match. England closed on 171 for 3, a lead of two, on a surface offering some assistance for the spinners and the occasional sight of uneven bounce.

Mark Stoneman's maiden Test fifty, completed after he suffered a dislocated little finger on 35, was an encouraging innings but, when he was dismissed, England were 94 for 3 and still 75 behind. It could have been better for West Indies had they spotted a thin edge from Dawid Malan when he had 4 and, more importantly, not dropped Root on 10 - this time by Kyle Hope at gully - with the fourth-wicket pair having added 77 by the close.

It had taken Root 21 balls to get off the mark against some excellent pace bowling, and it was a rare jittery innings from the captain, but he started to find more fluency after the life. Holder thought he had cut him off on 35 when he was given lbw, but the DRS saved Root - as it did Kraigg Brathwaite twice yesterday - with the ball shown to be missing leg stump. While Holder was excellent with bat and ball, it was odd captaincy that he only gave legspinner Devendra Bishoo two overs on a dry surface, the second of them five minutes before the close.

West Indies' lead was swelled by a crucial stand of 75 between Holder and Jermaine Blackwood after James Anderson had struck with the first two deliveries of the day to give England hope of swiftly beginning their second innings. However, the stand could have been broken with just four added but Moeen Ali spilled a simple chance at mid-on when Blackwood had 21. They could yet be vital runs.

Stoneman and Alastair Cook began solidly after the lunch break, bringing up just England's second fifty opening stand of the season, before two wickets for Holder in an impressive 12-over spell either side of tea shored up West Indies' position. Holder found increasing movement during his burst and beat Cook twice in three balls from round the wicket before finding the edge when the former England captain was threatening one of his long-term stays in the middle.

Tom Westley's immediate Test future was then plunged into further doubt when he played a horrid, wild drive at a wide delivery and sent a thin edge to Shane Dowrich. It came the over after there had been a horrendous mix-up between him and Stoneman, which should have left Westley run out. However, there was a poor return from the deep and Bishoo couldn't complete the opportunity. The shot that followed was of a slightly frazzled mind.

The debates around Westley will continue to swirl ahead of the final Test at Lord's, but Stoneman will be causing the selectors fewer headaches - for a short while, at least - after an accomplished 124-ball stay. He got his innings underway with three boundaries in four balls off Kemar Roach and kept his composure after taking the blow on his left little finger in the first over after tea which required the physio to pop his digit back into place. Given the problems trying to find an opening batsman, the selectors could have felt the position was cursed had they lost their latest candidate to an injury.

Stoneman's half-century came from 107 deliveries but, for the second time in three innings, he was on the receiving end of a gem of a delivery. After Roach took his off stump at Edgbaston, Gabriel did the same here with a wonderful ball which straightened from round the wicket - although Gabriel was mighty close to overstepping on a day where he delivered five no-balls (with others not called). Millimetres, at most, saved him.

From there, England held firm to end the day positively - as they had started it. Shai Hope had resumed on 147 but didn't make it past the first delivery of the morning when he nibbled at one outside off from Anderson and feathered an edge to the keeper. One ball later, England thought they had hauled themselves back into the match when Dowrich edged to second slip, giving Anderson his third five-wicket haul in as many innings at Headingley, where he had previously taken none in seven outings.

However, Moeen's drop knocked the stuffing out of England. Blackwood was always going to play positively, but having reached 10 off 20 deliveries Holder also cut loose with three consecutive boundaries off an agitated Broad with increasing style: a swivel-pull behind square, a back-foot drive through the covers and then the best of the lot - a glorious cover drive which any batsman in the world would be happy to claim.

Blackwood didn't find scoring as easy and found a variety of ways to add to his boundary count. There was a leading edge over Ben Stokes at gully (after his demerit point last night, Stokes needed to keep his thoughts to himself) and then another four to third man when he ducked a bouncer, but left his bat in the air, the ball flying off the toe end.

The lead was quickly approaching 150 - the mark that Anderson said last night would make the game very difficult to turn around for England - when both batsmen fell in the 40s. Holder tried to take the aerial route down the ground, a shot he had played well previously, but was well held by Moeen running back from mid-off to give Chris Woakes his first wicket. Blackwood was then run out one short of fifty by a strong throw from Stokes and a good gather at the stumps by Bairstow.

Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo

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