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Joe Root cause of England's growing hopes against West Indies

By Rory Dollard

Joe Root hit a masterful attacking century as England positioned themselves for a victory charge on day three of the second Test against West Indies in Grenada.

England were 373-6 at close of play, a lead of 74. Root was unbeaten on 118.

Root was in wonderful touch as he reached his hundred in just 125 balls, playing with freedom and intent on a pitch that placed him on a different plane.

England had other successes - Alastair Cook and Jonathan Trott sharing the team's first century opening stand for more than two years, Gary Ballance reeling off another redoubtable 77 - but Root operated with ease on a day where others were made to work long and hard for their runs.

After 112 overs, England were 46 ahead on 345 for five, with Root 102 not out.

It was a sixth century for the 24-year-old, who also equalled the English Test record of six consecutive scores of 50 or more.

The day started with England's first century opening partnership in over two years, Alastair Cook (76) and Jonathan Trott (59) putting aside concerns around their form to post 125 at the head of the innings.

That set a firm foundation for an assault on the West Indies' mark of 299, and Yorkshire duo Root and Ballance led the way in some style as the tourists reached the final drinks break in the lead on 318 for three.

The two partnerships that underpinned the English effort were very different in complexion, Cook and Trott digging in a stoic morning session that looked as if it might hold the game back.

Instead it gave the batting side a firm base to work from, allowing Ballance and Root, in particular, to make hay as the day progressed.

It was a wonderful day for batting, with clear blue skies, negligible seam movement and a bowling attack that ground to a standstill in sapping heat.

Root's knock was the most damaging.

One player missing from the opening weekend of local action is young leg spinner Jacob Mulder. The former CIYMS bowler signed for Carrickfergus last month but played last week in two friendly matches in Scotland for North Down.

Mulder has indicated he wants to play his cricket at Comber this season but Carrickfergus, back in the Premier League, have refused to release him until they have met the teenager who was the fifth leading wicket-taker last year. That meeting is due to take place next week.

Meanwhile, the Northern Knights have selected two teams for, in effect, a trial game at Comber on Sunday, ahead of their opening Twenty20 inter-provincial of the season against Leinster Lightning at Stormont next Friday.

Sunday's game begins at 11.30am and in the afternoon (3.30pm) the likely inter-pro line-up will face an NCU Chairman's XI, captained by Neil Russell, the man who led Instonians to the Premier League title last season.

The North West Warriors warm up for their opening Inter-provincial Cup match of the season, against Northern Knights at Stormont on Monday week, with a game against the Ireland Under 19s at Strabane on Sunday (10.45am).

Captain Andy McBrine misses the match with a torn groin and is replaced as skipper by fellow international Stuart Thompson.

There are four North West players in the Ireland side, the McClintock twins, Gary and William, plus Strabane's Aaron Gillespie and Andrew Austin from Bready as the squad count down to their World Cup qualifying tournament.

Belfast Telegraph


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