Tuesday, February 17, 2009

ENGLAND VS WESTINDIES 3rd TEST:Collingwood century puts England in command

Paul Collingwood became the second century-maker in the England first innings when he hit his eighth Test hundred against West Indies in the third Test here on Monday.But West Indies made an unsteady start to reach 55 for one, replying to England's first innings total of 566 for eight declared when stumps were drawn on the second day at the Antigua Recreation Ground.Collingwood made 113 and shared three half-century stands along the way that helped beef up the England total. Kevin Pietersen scored 51, Stuart Broad made 44, Matt Prior got 39, and Graeme Swann was not out on 20.Jerome Taylor collected two wickets for 73 runs from 28 overs, Fidel Edwards snared two for 75 from 26 overs, and Ryan Hinds poached two for 86 from 22.2 overs.England's new-ball pair of James Anderson and Andrew Flintoff then found out what their opponents had learnt about the ARG pitch over the past two days.Flintoff got a few balls to jump from a good length and startle Chris Gayle, but the West Indies captain and fellow left-handed opener Devon Smith had little about which to worry in between.Steve Harmison replaced Anderson at the northern end for the eighth over of the innings and things started to happen. His second delivery - a no-ball - Gayle blindly hooked over deep fine leg for a six way out of the small ground nestled in the Antigua & Barbuda capital.A few balls later, Harmison dug in short again, and Gayle swatted another no-ball, one bounce, into the mid-wicket boundary for the last of his five fours.But next delivery, England and Harmison were celebrating, when Gayle - weight on the back-foot - was caught at mid-off driving loosely.

Earlier, Collingwood helped England pile on the runs. He struck 14 boundaries from 202 balls in just over five hours before he was dismissed - caught inside the deep mid-wicket boundary off Hinds - to prompt the declaration.Collingwood added 94 with Pietersen for the fifth wicket, 62 with Prior for the seventh wicket, and the same amount with Broad for the eighth wicket, as England extended their innings to an hour and 20 minutes past tea.At lunch, England had reached 391 for four, after they suffered an early, but not totally surprising setback.The visitors continued from their overnight total of 301 for three, and lost night-watchman Anderson, when he was caught behind off Edwards for four in the second over of the morning.But Collingwood joined Pietersen and launched into the West Indies attack with a succession of blistering strokes. Both batsmen were prepared to bring out their pull and hook to good effect, but there were a few crisp drives as well.They however, had to survive a torrid opening spell from Edwards in which both were peppered about their body with a couple of short, rising balls.Pietersen, unusually subdued, was fortunate on 25 though, when he almost gave a return catch to Edwards looking to drive a low full toss.Collingwood had to fend a first-ball snorter from Edwards and was fortunate to see it land just short of slip fielders. 

But he remained unflappable throughout and stroked the ball with crisp assurance and reached his 50, when he cut Hinds through square cover for a single in the final over before the interval.After lunch, things got a bit shaky for England before Collingwood and Prior put them back on track to take them to 482 for seven at tea.They lost Pietersen, when Taylor bowled him for 51, and Flintoff, when he fell in the same manner for a second ball duck in the space of three balls in the first half-hour after the interval.But Prior joined Collingwood and they spent the next hour-and-a-half repairing the damage before Brendan Nash claimed his first Test wicket.Prior had looked solid in his 39 before he skied a delivery from the left-arm medium-paced bowler and was caught at deep mid-off.After tea, England continued to fortify their position with all of their batsmen chasing quick runs. Before a near capacity crowd of mainly holidaying British visitors, Collingwood reached his landmark, when he turned his 186th ball into square leg for a single.

Collingwood in the company of Broad and Swann then treated the crowd to some delightful strokes before the declaration came.England trail the series which now comprises five Tests 0-1, following an innings and 23-run defeat in the opening match at Kingston inside four days.The other two Tests in the series take place at Kensington Oval in Barbados from February 26 to March 2, and Queen's Park Oval in Trinidad from March 2-6.

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