Hope and Brathwaite shine again as Windies scent victory
LONDON: Kraigg Brathwaite and Shai Hope reprised their first innings heroics to give West Indies the scent of the most unlikely of victories on an engrossing final day of the second test against England at Headingley on Tuesday.
The pair, who had both scored hundreds while putting on 246 first time around, again combined superbly, compiling another century partnership to leave the visitors on 199 for three at tea in pursuit of their target of 322, with a minimum of 35 overs to come.
The Windies, whose pitiful performance in the innings defeat at Edgbaston in the first test had prompted much criticism, again responded with remarkable resilience as they reduced their target for levelling the three-match series to 123.
Yet when Moeen Ali tempted Brathwaite into a drive just before tea to have him caught at first slip by Ben Stokes for 95, it left this most excellent of contests on an even sharper knife edge.
With England having set a formidable target -- the Windies started the day needing 317 with all wickets intact -- on a turning pitch and under cloud cover, the two young batsmen negotiated their testing examinations superbly.
A mixture of calm defiance combined with judicious attacking saw them frustrate the England attack to the point that James Anderson, who had a run-in with opener Kieran Powell, and Stuart Broad, who was warned for kicking the pitch petuantly, were left increasingly disgruntled.
This was only the fourth time a pair had ever registered two century stands together in a single test for the Windies and the first since Brian Lara and Ramnaresh Sarwan achieved the feat in 2001.
In 534 first-class matches at Headingley, no batsman has ever scored a century in both innings of the same game -- but though 24-year-old Brathwaite missed out by just five runs, 23-year-old Hope still had a chance, 74 not out at tea.
As the day wore on, Alastair Cook's early miss, dropping Brathwaite at first slip off Broad with the Windies on just 11 without loss, had looked ever more costly.
Opener Powell went on to help Brathwaite provide a solid launchpad before the left-hander was caught for 23 by Stokes off Broad at fourth slip.
West Indies' resistance was then further weakened by the most unfortunate of dismissals for Kyle Hope, who was run out for a duck at the non-striker's end.
Broad dropped a fierce drive from Brathwaite only for the ball to deflect off the bowler's knee and cannon into the middle stump, leaving Hope stranded.
Yet Brathwaite, who had been so dogged in his 249-ball first innings stay, again made the best of his good fortune with the Cook drop to mix caution with admirable aggression as he faced another 180 balls, striking 12 fours.
Hope, more elegant than his dogged partner, struck 11 boundaries in his 126-ball knock to the tea interval as he sought to follow his first-innings score of 147 -- his maiden test century -- with another, possibly match-winning, one.