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June 8, 2007
England 370 (Bell 97, Cook 60) and 34 for 1 (Cook 12*, Vaughan 10*) lead West Indies 229 (Chanderpaul 50, Panesar 4-50) by 175 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Last year, against Pakistan, England succeeded with two bowlers firing - Panesar and Steve Harmison - and one-half of that partnership played a key role today. Panesar, wheeling away from the Brian Statham End, offered Michael Vaughan vital control and ran through the lower order with turn and bounce. However, the key breakthroughs went to Sidebottom in his third spell as he broke a threatening stand of 69 between Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Dwayne Bravo. However, England again got away with half a bowling attack.
After his eight wickets at a seamer-friendly Headingley, Sidebottom showed that he is more than a green-top, grey-sky bowler. He responded to Vaughan's desperate need for consistency after Harmison had produced another horrendously wayward display. Harmison struck in his first over to trap Daren Ganga with his variation - a straight ball - after already spearing four wides down the leg side. Earlier he'd been peppered by bouncers from Fidel Edwards but couldn't respond in kind. This wasn't the performance of an international fast bowler and Allan Donald watched on from the balcony, becoming aware of the true size of the task he faces.
Coupled with Harmison's problems, the aggression of West Indies' top order meant they sped along at five-an-over during the afternoon session. They quickly made inroads into England's healthy 370, which had been boosted by Ian Bell's 97 and lusty swinging from the tail. Chris Gayle's innings was played more out of hope than expectation before he spooned Liam Plunkett - who was no more convincing than Harmison - to Alastair Cook at point. Runako Morton, after his double century against MCC, didn't hang around and lofted Panesar for two sixes even when Vaughan pushed men back onto the boundary.
Panesar broke through with his first ball after tea, but Smith's wicket owed everything to the sharp reflexes of Bell at silly point, who stayed low to grab the inside edge which squirted off Smith's pad. Bravo began with a couple of unconvincing sweeps before showing that is promotion to No. 6 was not before time. With Chanderpaul, who was more aggressive than normal with a liberal helping of scoring chances on offer, West Indies' sprightly scoring rate was maintained.
Sidebottom's return from the Stretford End was the turning point as Bravo pushed at a delivery which slanted across him and Denesh Ramdin pulled lazily to square leg. Panesar ended Darren Sammy's first Test innings after four balls with a ball that spat and took the glove to an alert Paul Collingwood at slip. Two deliveries later Jerome Taylor guided a catch to Strauss in the gully. Chanderpaul had gone to 50 off 66 balls, but the sign of how drastically West Indies folded was that they were five down when Chanderpaul raised his bat and he was ninth out without adding another run. While his bowlers were losing control Vaughan will have been aware a collapse is always on the cards with this West Indian team and, right on cue, one came along to ease his immediate worries.
It isn't only Harmison and Plunkett who are in a slump; Strauss is not a picture of health with the bat. Another poor match at the crease ended fourth ball of England's second innings when Edwards, who began the day bowling rapidly at the tail, did the same to the top order and swung one plumb into Strauss' pad. Cook survived an inside edge on 12, which was so clear to all concerned that Ramdin threw the ball away in celebration then, to add insult to injury, three balls later let one through his legs to hit the helmet. When you are down everything goes wrong and another three hours of batting will put England out of sight in the match and the series.
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