The National Times - Root challenges West Indies with 286-run target in first Test

Root challenges West Indies with 286-run target in first Test

Root challenges West Indies with 286-run target in first Test
Root challenges West Indies with 286-run target in first Test

England captain Joe Root threw down the gauntlet to the West Indies on Saturday by declaring at 349 for six and setting the home side 286 to win the first Test in Antigua.

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West Indies had a possible 71 overs on the fifth and final day at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium to reach the total.

Openers John Campbell and captain Kraigg Brathwaite negotiated four overs to reach lunch on four without loss.

On a pitch which shows few signs of wear, although too slow for consistent, aggressive strokeplay, the openers gave no indication of whether the home side would take on the challenge.

The tourists will be without their fastest bowler, Mark Wood, who continues to be troubled by an elbow injury.

Having ushered Zak Crawley to his second Test century late on a rain-shortened fourth day, Root completed his 24th hundred in Tests.

By then Crawley had fallen for 121 as a well-targeted yorker from Jason Holder ended a 201-run second-wicket partnership.

Crawley's innings of more than five hours occupied 216 deliveries in which he struck 16 fours.

In contrast, Root's composed effort, which ended when he was bowled by Alzarri Joseph for 109, featured only six boundaries as the skipper faced 204 balls in just over five-and-a-half hours in the middle.

With play starting half an hour early after the frequent stoppages for rain on day four, England made their intention clear with a limited-over style attitude which brought 132 runs for the loss of five wickets at a run-a-ball.

Dan Lawrence belted 37 off 36 balls with four fours and the lone six of the innings. He dominated a 70-run third-wicket stand with his captain before he became the first of three wickets in quick succession for Joseph, who, as well as Root, also accounted for wicketkeeper-batsman Ben Foakes.

Kemar Roach, the lone West Indies wicket-taker the previous day when England reached 217 for one, dismissed Ben Stokes as the rush for runs continued as the lunch interval approached.

After a quick unbeaten partnership of 35 between Jonny Bairstow and Chris Woakes England declared at 349 for six wickets.

With Wood unavailable, Jack Leach shared the new ball with Chris Woakes, a sign that England would rely heavily on the left-arm spinner in pursuit of an unlikely victory.