Journal De Bruxelles - Stokes closes on rapid hundred as England dominate West Indies

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Stokes closes on rapid hundred as England dominate West Indies
Stokes closes on rapid hundred as England dominate West Indies

Stokes closes on rapid hundred as England dominate West Indies

Ben Stokes belted 89 off 92 balls to lead the charge as England sped to 369 for three at lunch on the second day of the second Test against the West Indies at Kensington Oval in Barbados on Thursday.

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England captain Joe Root was content to play a supporting role to the rampaging all-rounder, advancing his score by 31 runs in the two hours' play to be unbeaten on 151 at the interval.

Starting the day at 244 for three, it was another session of utter dominance by the visitors on a placid pitch to the undisguised delight of thousands of English supporters enjoying the twin delights of Caribbean sunshine and a batting masterclass by two of their premier players.

Stokes, who faced the first ball of the morning from Jason Holder after Dan Lawrence's dismissal for 91 at the end of day one, has smashed 11 fours and four sixes so far in his innings.

He was particularly harsh on Alzarri Joseph as the interval approached, belting three fours and a six off a single over from the Antiguan pacer.

That straight hit for six took Stokes past 5,000 runs in Test cricket and on 87 at the time, with two overs still to be bowled in the session, it seemed possible that he would have been able to achieve the rare feat of scoring a hundred runs in a single Test session.

However he was kept off strike for most of the remaining 12 deliveries to the relief of the suffering West Indies bowlers, adding just two more singles.

Root reached 150 with a single in the penultimate over before the break and given the manner of Stokes' acceleration, especially in the last half-hour of the morning's play, England would appear to be setting the stage for an all-out assault in the afternoon session followed by a declaration which would leave the West Indies facing a potentially challenging period of play towards the end of the day.

While the Caribbean bowlers started the day seeking to maintain a disciplined line in pursuit of an early breakthrough, they were undone by the excellence of Root and Stokes, whose unbroken 125-run fourth-wicket partnership was both a testament to their quality as batters and a benign Kensington Oval track which makes bowling almost a thankless task.