Joe Root compiled his second straight century, an unbeaten 119, as England batted their way to a commanding position in the second Test against West Indies in Barbados on Wednesday (March 16). Even though Dan Lawrence fell for 91 with what turned out to be the final ball of the first day, England took the honours after winning the toss, reaching 244/3 at stumps on a flat Kensington Oval pitch in Bridgetown. 

After a draw on a slow track in Antigua last week, many hoped for a livelier strip on a ground where none of the seven previous tests were drawn, not that Root had any complaints after making his 25th Test century. Serenaded by a singing Barmy Army that periodically chanted ‘Joe Root’ to the tune of the Beatles’ Hey Jude, his performance earned the praise of England batting coach Marcus Trescothick, who described his captain’s knock as ‘magnificent’. 

“To have the discipline and the approach to the way he’s going about his business is a real example to everybody else in our side and in English cricket about how to go about playing test cricket,” Trescothick said. “The hunger and desire to keep coming back, after getting a hundred last week, to do it again is brilliant to watch. It’s super for the change room to see him doing so well.” 

Not that Root was without a bit of luck, dropped by the keeper when on 34, not long after he appeared to get an edge to a Jason Holder delivery that West Indies captain Kraigg Brathwaite opted not to review. West Indies’ largely fruitless day in the field went from bad to worse late on when Alzarri Joseph failed to take a sharp but regulation chance at slip that would have sent Lawrence packing for 72. 

The faux pas left bowler Jayden Seales struggling to contain his frustration, but the home team’s mood improved somewhat when Lawrence spooned a simple catch to cover off Holder to end a 164-run partnership with Root. Root has scored more than 2,000 runs since the start of 2021, nearly double the next best haul, and has made eight centuries, his only relatively lean patch coming in a losing Ashes series in Australia. 

Earlier, Seales got West Indies off to a good start when he removed first test centurion Zak Crawley for a seven-ball duck, beating the 24-year-old with an outswinger that was caught-behind. Fellow opener Alex Lees, coming off two failures in Antigua, showed determination not to give his wicket away cheaply, playing with understandable caution. 

He made 30 before being out plumb lbw to spinner Veerasammy Permaul, lasting 138 balls and playing his part in taking the shine off the new ball. England made two changes from the first Test, with pace bowlers Matt Fisher and Saqib Mahmood making their Test debuts after coming in for Craig Overton and Mark Wood. 

West Indies were unchanged. The teams are playing a three-test series in the Caribbean. 

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(with Reuters inputs)