Ben Stokes’ fearless hitting and more new-ball brilliance from Stuart Broad and Chris Woakes left England needing seven wickets at lunch on the final day of the second Test against the West Indies.
Everything went to plan for the home side on the fifth morning, adding 92 runs in just 11 overs to declare 311 ahead before reducing their opponents to 25 for three to complete a one-sided session at Emirates Old Trafford.
The first hour belonged to Stokes, promoted to open the batting on Sunday evening in pursuit of quick runs, as he gave yet another reminder of his irrepressible abilities with the bat.
Resuming alongside Joe Root on 37 for two – a lead of 219 – he hit top gear almost immediately and never slowed down. Starting on his overnight score of 16, he added another 62 off just 39 deliveries with three sweetly-struck sixes over long-off and four boundaries despite the permanent presence of eight fielders on the ropes.
The Windies made one costly drop, John Campbell allowing the ball to spill from his hands after Stokes carved Shannon Gabriel to deep extra-cover on 29, and Stokes made them pay in full.
He swung hard, connected frequently and ran insatiably to power the cause, with Root run out for 22 attempting to pass him the strike and Ollie Pope chiming in late with 12no.
With scores of 43, 46 and 176 in his previous three innings, the all-rounder now has a batting average of 114.33 in the series, not to mention seven wickets.
Root waved the team in at the mid-point of the session, leaving his bowlers 85 overs to square the series.
Broad, whose burst of three for one advanced the game dramatically on the fourth evening, needed all of five balls to get things moving again. Having just been driven for four by Campbell he invited the left-hander to try again, this time shaving the outside edge on the way through to Buttler.
Woakes was bowling with great control at the other end and landed a big prize at the end of his fourth over when Kraigg Brathwaite – the tourists’ most dogged performer – was beaten off the pitch and pinned clean in front of the stumps, lbw for 12.
That left England well ahead but Broad was not finished yet, summoning a killer combination of aggressive lines and a hint of help from the surface to make a mess of Shai Hope’s stumps.
England ended a dominant passage of play by unsuccessfully calling for DRS against Roston Chase off the final ball of the morning, but the balance of power was already well established as the sides headed in.