Ballance & Root pick up pace for England, Cook out for 76

ST. GEORGE’S, Grenada (AP) _ An aggressive, unbroken partnership of 89 between Gary Ballance and Joe Root put England back on course for a sizeable first-innings lead over the West Indies on day three Thursday of the second test.

England was 253-3 at tea, trailing West Indies by 46 runs at the National Stadium.

Left-hander Ballance, a century-maker in the drawn first test, was 47 at the second interval, and right-hander Root was on 51 off 70 balls, his sixth consecutive half-century equaling an England record.

They put England back on course after Shannon Gabriel struck twice within six balls after lunch.

Gabriel, the muscular fast bowler who was a late replacement for the injured Jerome Taylor, bowled captain Alastair Cook for 76 with the first ball of his 12th over, and Ian Bell for 1 with the first ball of his 13th to check England’s advance. Both diverted the ball into the stumps from the under edge of the bat as England briefly faltered at 164-3.

Ballance and Root reclaimed control, though Root survived a video review of a rejected lbw decision off Gabriel. Like when Cook was given a lucky break on 65, not enough of the ball was hitting Root’s middle and leg stumps.

The foundation for a big total was first laid by the opening partnership of 125 between Cook and Jonathan Trott that started on the second afternoon.

Resuming at 74 without loss in bright sunshine, Trott’s was the only wicket before lunch, edging a catch to second slip, driving at a leg-break from Davendra Bishoo.

He made 59, recovering his form after scores of 0 and 4 in Antigua, his first test since pulling out of England’s series in Australia in November 2013.

Trott and Cook brought up a century stand in the 42nd over, the first by England openers since March 2013 against New Zealand in Dunedin.

Cook was 24 away from his 25th test hundred when Gabriel dismissed him. His last century was 19 tests ago against New Zealand in May 2013. He hit eight fours from his 211 balls.

More from Around NYC