England lead West Indies by 2 runs, 7 wickets left

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England's Dawid Malan, centre, swings at the ball during day three of the second test match at Headingley in Leeds, England, Sunday Aug. 27. (Nigel French/PA via AP)
England’s Dawid Malan, centre, swings at the ball during day three of the second test match at Headingley in Leeds, England, Sunday Aug. 27. (Nigel French/PA via AP)

Leeds, England (AP) — Joe Root and Dawid Malan began the fightback to take England to 171-3 in their second innings, only two runs ahead of West Indies at stumps on Day 3 of the second test on Sunday.

Root was 45 not out and his unbroken partnership with Malan was worth 77 by the close at Headingley, edging England just ahead after West Indies finished on 427 all out in their first innings.

Root was on course to reach 50 for the sixth time in 11 innings this summer, and Malan was 21 not out. In a further boost to England, opener Mark Stoneman made 52, a maiden half-century in his second test and relief for one of England’s struggling newcomers.

It was a battle for Stoneman, who faced 124 deliveries for his half-century and also played through the pain of a dislocated little finger, which he sustained halfway through his innings.

West Indies had applied the pressure on England earlier in the day to take a 169-run first-innings lead. That was set up by centuries on Day 2 from Shai Hope (147) and Kraigg Brathwaite (134) and a 75-run partnership on Sunday between West Indies captain Jason Holder (43) and Jermaine Blackwood (49).

Holder had a standout day when he followed up on that effort with the bat by taking 2-44 with the ball at the start of England’s second innings.

Holder forced out Alastair Cook and Tom Westley, both caught behind by wicketkeeper Shane Dowrich, and England were 94-3 before Root and Malan came together and began to rebuild England’s second innings.

West Indies still have a good chance at a first test victory in England in 17 years, mostly down to the batting of Hope and Brathwaite and the all-round work of Holder.

Continuing on 329-5 in their first innings, West Indies had to recover from the early shock of losing two wickets off the first two balls of the day, when Hope went without adding to his overnight score of 147 and Dowrich was out for a first-ball duck.

James Anderson opened the day in dramatic fashion with those two dismissals in his 5-76, taking England’s leading test bowler of all-time to 497 career wickets and just three short of becoming only the sixth player to take 500 test wickets.

The Holder-Blackwood partnership put the West Indies innings back on track, though, as the pair took the attack to the England bowlers. Holder hit seven fours before being caught at mid-on going for an eighth boundary. Blackwood also collected seven fours but was run out one short of a half-century. Gabriel and Kemar Roach added more handy runs with their 21-run stand for the last wicket. Gabriel eventually fell leg before wicket to Ben Stokes two balls after he was given out caught at gully but successfully reviewed the decision, with the ball coming off his shoulder.

That total gave West Indies a handy advantage in their quest to level the three-match series and bounce back straightaway from a humiliating innings defeat in the first test.

Root and Malan were in the process of dragging England back into the match after both were given let-offs. Malan got away with a thin edge when on 4 and, possibly more damaging for the West Indies, Root was dropped when on 10 by Kyle Hope in the gully.