Alastair Cook’s third consecutive half-century has steered England to 4-151 at tea on the opening day of the third and final Test against the West Indies at Kensington Oval.
Having seen his side reduced to 3-38 in Friday’s morning session after winning the toss and choosing to bat, the England captain displayed great resolve in compiling an unbeaten 60.
It was a patient knock that has already occupied four hours and 170 deliveries on a pitch offering some encouragement to the faster bowlers.
Cook will resume in the final session of the day alongside Moeen Ali, the allrounder’s 37 not out proving invaluable in helping to redress the balance of play.
They put on 60 runs for the fifth wicket by the break after Joe Root’s was the only wicket to fall in the afternoon session.
In a purple patch of form highlighted by his unbeaten 182 in the victorious second Test, Root stroked his way to 33 off 35 balls before edging a delivery from left-arm spinner Veerasammy Permaul into to the gloves of wicketkeeper and captain Denesh Ramdin.
Earlier, Jason Holder took two important wickets after opening bowler Jerome Taylor exploited Jonathan Trott’s vulnerability to fast, short-pitched bowling.
Stretchered off the field on the last day of the second Test when he appeared to turn over his left ankle badly while bowling, Holder showed no ill effects of that injury and enjoyed swift success.
Playing on his home ground, the tall fast-medium bowler uprooted Gary Ballance’s middle-stump and then induced an indeterminate prod from new batsman Ian Bell with a slower delivery to take a sharp catch off his own bowling before the prolific right-hander had scored.
Trott, who has endured a wretched run since returning to the England side in this series after 17 months out of the international game, fended at a lifting delivery from pacer Shannon Gabriel for Permaul to dive forward and take the catch at forward short-leg.
It was Trott’s third duck in five innings and heightens concerns about his ability to cope with what are expected to be much tougher challenges from New Zealand and Australia in the upcoming English summer.