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England’s lead swells to 258 after Stuart Broad strengthens the home side’s grip on the third Test

Not even Stuart Broad could end another momentous day by taking the wicket that would have propelled him to the magical figure of 500 in Test cricket. But he came mighty close.

Broad had already claimed two early second innings West Indies victims to make it six in the day. And his legs were pumping in that inimitable style as he came charging in at Shai Hope at the end of the third day of this decisive Test with England emphatically on top.

But Hope survived a last-ball beauty to delay what must be the inevitable England victory —despite a horrendous weather forecast today — and another significant landmark for a bowler who simply refuses to be marginalised.

England were far from at their best for much of Sunday. They did not help themselves with a sluggish start to the day with the ball and then by struggling to push firmly on the accelerator until after tea.

Apart from that man Broad, of course, who took the last four West Indies wickets on Sunday morning and then the first two of their second in the evening, claiming John Campbell and nightwatchman Kemar Roach as the tourists staggered to 10 for two. 

They have, if the rain stays away, two days to reach a theoretical 399 to win or hang on for the draw that would see them retain the Wisden Trophy. An awful lot of rain will surely be needed for them to have any chance.

It could have been even better for England. They could easily have been in a position to enforce the follow on and push for a three-day victory had Root made what looked like an obvious call to open the bowling on Sunday with man-of-the-moment Broad.

Instead, Jason Holder and Shane Dowrich were able to ease past their initial target of 170 before Broad, who had dominated the second day with both bat and ball, was finally introduced to bring an abrupt end to West Indies resistance.

First, Broad made an impact with his third ball of the day to trap Holder, who had already been caught by the diving Ollie Pope only for Chris Woakes to be found to have overstepped.

Then Broad struck twice in four balls to send back Rahkeem Cornwall and Roach, before claiming a sixth wicket when Dowrich top-edged a pull.

It took Broad, whose four wickets in 22 balls on Sunday morning cost only 11 runs, to 497 Test wickets — a figure that climbed to 499 by the close, with the power to add many more.

England, 172 ahead after West Indies were dismissed for 197, had plenty of time to build a decisive lead but the equation was complicated by an apocalyptic forecast that suggests we will be lucky to see a single ball bowled on Sunday.

So the sight of Rory Burns and Dom Sibley moving along at barely more than two an over in a middle session that saw England add only 76 in 28 overs was hardly a welcome one. This is a Test they have to win to regain the soon to be retired Wisden Trophy. 

To be fair, it is dangerous for any captain to be influenced too much by weather forecasts that can be notoriously unreliable.

Some modern apps, for instance, were saying Saturday would be washed-out and we ended up with a full day’s play.

So it was understandable Root waited until England were 398 ahead before he pulled the plug on the hosts’ second innings. And if the sun shines all day today and West Indies are able to chase down 399, they would deserve to keep the Wisden Trophy forever.

It is not long, don’t forget, since England would have been delighted with any opening stand of 114, however long it took.

Indeed, this was their first century partnership at the top of the order in a home Test since Alastair Cook and Alex Hales put on 126 against Pakistan at Edgbaston in 2016.

It certainly made West Indies suffer. First captain Holder had to leave the field to have his left thumb bandaged after being hit by a low edge from Burns off Roach.

And then Dowrich’s unhappy series took a painful turn when a delivery from Shannon Gabriel burst through his gloves and struck him on the jaw. He was replaced behind the wicket firstly by Hope and then substitute Joshua da Silva.

Da Silva, the first white man to play for West Indies since another keeper — Brendan Nash in 2008 — could have marked his first appearance with a stumping but slipped with Burns well out of his crease after advancing at Roston Chase on 12.

It was the only blip in another impressive display from Burns, who batted with much more urgency once Sibley, struggling to increase the momentum himself, had fallen for 56 to Holder.

Sibley survived a reviewed lbw decision but was out next ball to another one. Both calls proved to be spot on from an Englishman having almost as good a series as Broad — umpire Michael Gough.

Not that Sibley should worry. This was his second half century of his first home series, to go with the hundred he made here in the second Test. He has proved beyond doubt that his unorthodox technique can prosper at the highest level.

So, too, has Burns, who started sweeping productively as he moved to within 10 runs of his hundred before Da Silva finally got his man and celebrated his first catch in Test cricket as if he had won the World Cup.

By that time the pace had been increased by England to such an extent that 140 runs came in the 26 overs after tea.

This allowed Root, who made an unbeaten 68 off 56 balls, to give his old bowling firm another short burst at West Indies.

It was one Broad once again seized with relish.  

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