Marlon Samuels averted a complete West Indies batting collapse with a classy, unbeaten 94 to lift the home side to 5-188 at stumps on a rain-affected first day of the second Test against England in Grenada on Tuesday.
Playing the 100th Test innings of a career spanning more than 14 years, the elegant 34-year-old right-hander dominated a protracted final session to the extent that his unbroken 59-run sixth-wicket partnership with Denesh Ramdin had the captain contributing just six runs.
Samuels came to the crease before lunch with the West Indies unsteady after two early setbacks.
He never looked troubled throughout his time in the middle and maintained his excellent record against the English with an innings that was watchful for the most part before he launched into a series of extravagant strokes on Ramdin’s arrival at the wicket.
He averages 69.00 in six previous Tests against England.
Most of his 13 boundaries in 186 deliveries came during that period, which followed the dismissal of Jermaine Blackwood for 26 that reduced the hosts to 5-129 after tea.
Initially ruled “not out” by standing umpire Steve Davis to a concerted leg before appeal by Chris Jordan, the first Test centurion headed back to the pavilion when England’s challenge of the decision showed, via television replays, that the delivery would have hit leg-stump.
That reversal of the on-field verdict broke a 55-run fifth-wicket stand between the two Jamaicans and earned Jordan his second wicket.
The seamer had earlier removed local hero Devon Smith after James Anderson produced a huge inswinger to bowl the other opener, Kraigg Brathwaite, comprehensively in the third over of the day.
Stuart Broad and Ben Stokes joined in the list of wicket-takers in continuing overcast conditions after lunch, capitalising on poor shots by Darren Bravo (35) and Shivnarine Chanderpaul (1).
A succession of light showers had delayed the start of the match to almost midday and the regular fall of wickets through the first two sessions justified Cook’s decision to put the West Indies in to bat.
Ali, who missed the drawn first Test in Antigua while completing his recovery from an injury sustained during the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, came into the England final 11 as a replacement for fellow off-spinner James Tredwell, who strained his bowling arm attempting a diving return catch in the final minutes of play in Antigua last Friday.