Leach and Mahmood rescue England after shambolic collapse in Grenada

By Sports Desk March 24, 2022

Jack Leach and Saqib Mahmood rescued England with a magnificent final-wicket stand after West Indies had made a dream start to the deciding Test at the Grenada National Stadium.

The tourists were deep in the mire on 114-9 after being put in by Kraigg Brathwaite in the third and final match of the series following draws in Antigua and Barbados.

Kyle Mayers (2-13) started the procession of wickets, with England in disarray after Jayden Seales (3-40), Kemar Roach (2-41) and Alzarri Joseph (2-33) ripped through the middle order.

But Leach (41 not out) and Mahmood (49) resembled top-order batters as they put on 90 before the seamer was dismissed by Jermaine Blackwood in the last over of the day in St George's, where England were all out for 204.

Zak Crawley gifted Mayers the first wicket, driving straight to Brathwaite at cover, and the same bowler had Root caught behind without scoring before Seales trapped Dan Lawrence lbw to leave England in trouble on 46-3 at lunch.

Things went from bad to worse for England as they lost three wickets without scoring a run, with Ben Stokes caught and bowled by Joseph misjudging a pull and Jonny Bairstow out for a duck after Alex Lees (31) nicked Roach behind.

Seales produced good pace to skittle Ben Foakes and Roach made a mess of Craig Overton's stumps with a quick delivery that nipped back significantly, reducing the tourists to 90-8.

Woakes (25) looked comfortable until he was bowled through the gate by Seales, but Leach and Mahmood settled in to turn the tide in unlikely fashion.

Leach was dropped by Mayers on 10 and John Campbell slipped a chance Mahmood offered up when he had 15, with the seamer adding insult to injury by launching the next ball from Mayers for six.

The runs continued to flow despite the second new ball being taken, but part-time spinner Blackwood bowled Mahmood just before the close to provide some relief for the flagging Windies.

 

Mayers makes big impact on his return

All-rounder Mayers got the nod ahead of spinner Veerasammy Permaul for his first Test of the year.

He justified his recall in quick time, seeing the back of Crawley before drawing an edge from Root with a scrambled seam getting the ball to nip away from the in-form England skipper.

Seales, Roach and Joseph also ran riot in the afternoon session to put England on the ropes before the tail wagged.

Leach and Mahmood haul England off the canvas

The Windies lost their way as Leach and Mahmood batted with a combination of tenacity and skill.

This was just the second time a number 10 and 11 were the two leading scorers in a Test innings, with the first pair being Tom Garrett and Edwin Evans for Australia versus England at the SCG way back in 1885. 

Playing in only his second Test, Mahmood bettered his best first-class score of 34 and fell agonisingly short of a maiden half-century. Leach faced 141 balls in his latest rearguard act.

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    The Somerset spinner took 5-66 on day four of England's fourth Test against New Zealand to claim his first 10-wicket haul in the format.

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    Not since Derek Underwood against Pakistan at Lord's in 1974 had an England spinner claimed two five-fors in a home Test.

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    "Stokesy's confidence in his decisions but also in us as players – I have never experienced anything like it.

    "It is very special to be a part of, and that is credit to Stokesy and Baz [McCullum] for setting that up.

    "You realise teams I have played in, the way I have thought, a lot of decisions are made around negativity.

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    "My biggest thing is having belief in myself, and that is what Ben and Baz have helped me with."

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    Zak Crawley (25) and Alex Lees (nine) fell early on in the chase, but Pope and Root's unbeaten 132-run stand means England now require just 113 runs with eight wickets in hand.

    Should England complete the job on Monday, they will become the first team in Test history to successfully chase a target of at least 250 three times in a single series.

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    "This team has been known to fight, and we've got to come out there and do that tomorrow," he said. "You put a couple of wickets on there and you just never know.

    "Obviously you've got two guys out there in good form, but if we get one of those, who knows?

    "The wicket is deteriorating. A little bit of variable bounce, obviously with the spin as well. It's quite hard to drive with that older ball. 

    "It looks like it's going to deteriorate even more, and hopefully we can utilise that tomorrow."

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    If England complete the job on Monday, they will become the first team in Test history to successfully chase a target of at least 250 three times in a single series.

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