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West Indies on brink of series victory as Root's sorry England suffer

By John Skilbeck
Kyle Mayers and Joe Root

Grenada, March 27: England were facing a crushing defeat in the decisive third Test against West Indies as Joshua Da Silva and Kyle Mayers made day three thoroughly miserable for Joe Root and the tourists.

Da Silva reached a first Test century and Mayers took 5-9 in 13 overs in a career-best bowling performance, with West Indies capitalising on a first-innings lead of 93 runs by reducing England to 103 for eight at stumps.

Leading by 10 runs with just two second-innings wickets standing, the last sliver of hope for England was that they converted 90 for eight in their first innings to 204 all out, but this time around they looked floored.

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The England tail must wag spectacularly on Sunday at the Grenada National Stadium for this to become a contest again, with signs pointing to West Indies landing the series win after the first two Tests ended in draws.

Former England skipper Michael Vaughan speculated this could prove to be Root's final match as captain, with the team, crushed in the Ashes before this series, looking increasingly rudderless.

West Indies had a strong morning as Da Silva went from 54 not out to finish unbeaten on 100, sharing in a 52-run partnership for the 10th wicket with Jayden Seales, who managed a gritty 13 and saw off 58 deliveries before Root removed him, caught and bowled.

From 232-8 at the start of play, having been 128-7 at one point on Friday, West Indies amassed 297 and England's jaws were already on the floor.

It got no better for the tourists after lunch as they plummeted to 39-4, still 54 short of making West Indies bat again. Zak Crawley flashed a catch to Jason Holder to give Seales an early wicket, before Mayers removed Root for the second time in the match.

Reaching for the ball outside off stump, Root got a hefty edge and gave John Campbell a comfortable take at first slip. After a duck in the first innings, to fall for five this time was a grim blow.

Mayers went on to bowl Dan Lawrence for a duck and prise out Ben Stokes for four. Opener Alex Lees had avoided being part of the early churn, obdurately defying the home attack in a go-slow innings, and began to lead a recovery alongside Jonny Bairstow. They put on 41 for the fifth wicket before Bairstow got a thin edge to give Alzarri Joseph a wicket.

Ben Foakes fell to a lamentable run out at the end of the same over, and Lees, who faced 132 balls, perished for 31 when Mayers tore out the left-hander's off stump. Mayers had his fifth wicket when Craig Overton edged to Holder, who juggled at third slip before clinging on. West Indies could not quite get over the line before the close, but victory is in sight.

Vaughan senses end of Root era

Taking into account all Tests where he has batted twice, this was Root's worst performance with the bat since making one and a duck against New Zealand in 2015 at Headingley. He has been terrific with the bat for England in recent times, but even he fell flat in this game.

Vaughan said on BT Sport: "I just feel that this could be his last Test match as captain. I can see in his face, I've been in that position. When it goes, and he's been captain for such a long period of time, it might be starting to come to an end for him."

Marvellous Mayers tortures tourists

Mayers, who in 10 previous Tests had achieved innings-best figures of 3-24, found himself with figures of 5-9 here, with England finding his medium-fast pace surprisingly too hot to handle.

Chris Woakes, Jack Leach and Saqib Mahmood delivered with the bat in England's first innings, scoring 115 runs between them, and they are the three batters remaining this time. Yet snowfall in Grenada on Sunday seems about as likely as another England rescue act. This team looks ready for home.

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Story first published: Sunday, March 27, 2022, 3:50 [IST]
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