If day one belonged to the heroics of Marlon Samuels, day 2 saw Darren Sammy making a century. The captain made his maiden test century, after 25 test long wait. After the way the two West Indians batted yesterday, they walked out today looking positive. English bowlers would have appreciated when the umpires called stumps yesterday. They were on top in the first two sessions of the match, but Samuels and Sammy turned it totally around for them. The pitch appeared a lot more cracked than yesterday and one expected Graeme Swann to have a big role to play. That didn’t happen though, but Tim Bresnan was easily the pick of the bowlers with 4/104. West Indies would have liked to get more runs on the board. They lost 4 wickets for just 30 runs. But 370 is a good score. One couldn’t help think that if the West Indian bowlers (especially Shane Shillingford) bend their backs and bowl the right line, they are likely to get some good purchase from the wicket.
Earlier, Anderson and Broad started off slowly. Giving Samuels and Sammy to get their eye back in. Even though Anderson got one to swing in sharply at Sammy, just missing an inside edge on to the stumps, you could hardly see the bowlers troubling the batsmen. Sammy’s century came after he and Samuels eclipsed Colin Cowdrey and Godfrey Evans for the highest 7th wicket partnership in England by any international test side. After his century, Sammy seemed to be in the mood to hammer everything that was bowled to him. That caused his undoing. He got a life when a thick outside edge went past slips, but a mis-timed pull shot got him caught by Pietersen at mid-wicket. Bresnan was the bowler. One wondered if Samuels would go on to be the sheet anchor and rally the tail-enders around him, or would he just leave it to chance and play as he felt? A verbal duel with Pietersen clearly unsettled Samuels and he fell at 117 to Bresnan. He sliced a fullish delivery to Anderson. The writing was on the wall after that. Shillingford was treated with some short stuff and Roach was almost taken in slips. Roach didn’t last too long after the life and was out to Bresnan’s bowling, easily lapped up by Strauss at first slip. Swann, who was expected to do wonders on this wicket got his second for the innings – more expected from him when England comes out to bowl in the next innings.
England started shakily. Right at the start, Cook was caught behind, but the replays showed a no-ball and he survived. They played steadily after that and looked to play a long innings. Strauss and Cook were keeping the scorers busy. The last time England made a 50 run opening partnership at Trent Bridge was half a decade ago. The curse persisted. Cook was taken when his personal score was 24 and the team’s 43. Ravi Rampaul bowled a quicker-than-usual delivery and Cook nicked it straight to the keeper Ramdin. Trott walked in next and he had a few tense moments at the start. He gloved one that fell short of Ramdin. Sammy came in to bowl and got Strauss’ outside edge, falling short of slips. Strauss decided to go into a shell, slowing things down tremendously, but Trott kept the scoreboard ticking. Kemar Roach gave Ravi Rampaul a much needed break. Coming back from an injury, the man bowled a long spell of eleven overs! Sammy's field placing was disappointing. With a good score to back them, the Windies should have been in attack mode. He kept a solitary slip for himself and managed to get an edge from Strauss. The sole slip soldier was Bravo and the ball fell short and wide of him. Roach appeared to be struggling having bowled eight no-balls. He went for thirteen runs in one over, with Trott hitting two consecutive boundaries and four byes down the leg side.
After Tea, Rampaul came back with some smart, copy-book bowling. He got consecutive balls to move away from Trott and got the third one to come in sharply to hit his pads. The umpire gave it out. England went upstairs and the decision was upheld. Much relief for the Windies and fans had begun to anticipate some action. Kevin Pietersen who missed out in the previous innings walked out. Those of us expecting Shane Shillingford to cause some damage gave up soon. Pietersen charged down the wicket to hammer him for six. Strauss hit him for two boundaries in the same over. KP resumed his natural flair in batting and put Shillingford to the sword while deftly handling Rampaul. He punished Roach and Samuels whenever they erred. He even 'Dilscooped' Samuels for four! He reached 50 breezily as the hundred partnership came up. Strauss made his 21st test century and his second consecutive one in the 64th over.
At stumps, England were 259/2, with Andrew Strauss at 102 and Kevin Pietersen at a quickfire 72. England have come back in style. West Indies will have to work very hard and hope for their bowlers to come back strong like England did this morning. The wicket is still good for batting, but is detiriorating bit by bit. If only the Windies had a quality spinner. Or will Shane Shillingford make this writer eat his own words? We'll know tomorrow.