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England claim nine-wicket victory
25 Apr 2015 23:11
England wrapped up a nine-wicket victory over the West Indies after a magical morning from James Anderson and a ruthless chase from Alastair Cook and Gary Ballance secured the second Test.
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Anderson, who became England's leading Test wicket-taker in Antigua last week, was in effervescent form as he played a decisive role in six consecutive wickets to inspire his side on a flat pitch in Grenada.
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England were left to chase 143, with Cook (59no) and Ballance (81no) both scoring their second half-centuries of the match to hand the tourists a 1-0 series lead for the loss of one wicket. Ballance's knock took him past 1,000 Test runs in his 17th innings, a remarkable achievement that just eight men have bettered in the history of the game.
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Only two of those are Englishmen, with Ballance bettered only by Herbert Sutcliffe and Sir Len Hutton.
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Yet things might have looked very different at stumps had it not been for Anderson's magnetic display in the first session. At one stage the 32-year-old claimed three wickets for one run with the new ball, finding edges from Kraigg Brathwaite, Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Marlon Samuels in quick succession to finish with four for 43.
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And he then played his part in the field, stretching high to catch Jermaine Blackwood's lofted drive, running out Jason Holder with an opportunistic direct hit and pouching Kemar Roach at mid-on just before the break.
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The way Anderson dragged the game by the scruff of the neck relied on considerable skill and sheer force of personality, a combination that called to mind another of Lancashire's favourite sons, Andrew Flintoff.
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Had Roy of the Rovers been a cricketer, this was the kind of performance he would produce.
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After five overs with the old ball yielded 17 runs, England needed to make inroads with the replacement and Anderson obliged. His first delivery with the fresh Dukes spat at Brathwaite from short of a length, his defiant 116 ended with a looping catch at gully.
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Chanderpaul was next to go, though Anderson needed brilliant reactions of Cook to seal the deal.
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Ian Bell spilled a regulation edge at second slip only to see Cook fall to his right and snatch a one-handed catch off the ground at the second attempt.
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In his next over Anderson struck again, Samuels drawn into a making a belated leave only only to toe edge a catch to Jos Buttler.
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Ben Stokes, who had been cheekily saluted by the Jamaican following his first-innings dismissal, whooped with delight and clapped enthusiastically as his rival departed.
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The West Indies' lead was still just 92 when they lost their sixth wicket, Blackwood driving Chris Jordan aerially and Anderson stretching high above his head to pluck the ball out of the air at mid-off.
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It was a fine catch but a rotten shot, ill-befitting a Test number six in the circumstances.
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Anderson almost had Denesh Ramdin caught in the cordon for a fifth wicket, but his all-action performance continued as he repaid Holder for running him out on day four.
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Ballance had parried a tough chance off Ramdin at extra-cover when Anderson spotted non-striker Holder advancing up the wicket.
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He pounced on the loose ball from mid-off and threw down the stumps in an instant.
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The paceman tossed his cap 20 feet in the air and sprinted off in celebration, enthused by his own electric contributions. But his work was not yet done.
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Roach was the next feather in his cap, hacking Moeen to mid-on where the man of the moment claimed the catch just before lunch.
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Anderson almost ran out Devendra Bishoo for a seventh success, but it was left to Moeen to finish up, claiming two lbw decisions in three deliveries for figures of three for 51.
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The English reply got off to a shaky start, Jonathan Trott chopping Shannon Gabriel on for a third-ball duck.
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But Cook was in confident mood, combining sensible leaves with a steady stream of boundaries.
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Ballance had his moments, put down on three and 16, but soon settled down and beat Cook to fifty after plundering 21 in two overs from Bishoo and Gabriel.
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His 62nd run, a paddled single off Samuels, took him to 1,000 and put his name in lights alongside some of the sport's greatest batsmen.
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Devon Smith put him down again on 67, but Cook coasted along to a controlled fifty.
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Ballance struck his eighth boundary for the winning runs, cutting Samuels behind square to make it 144 for one, as he and Cook punched the air in delight.
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