West Indies v England: Joe Root century puts tourists in charge

By James GheerbrantBBC Sport
Joe Root bats
Joe Root's century included 13 fours and two sixes
Second Test, day three, St George's, Grenada
West Indies 299: Samuels 103, Broad 4-61
England 373-6: Root 118*, Ballance 77, Cook 76

A sparkling hundred from Joe Root put England in position to push for victory in the second Test against West Indies.

Root hit 118 not out, his sixth Test century, as the tourists reached 373-6 in their first innings, leading West Indies by 74 with two days to go.

The Yorkshireman was well supported by Gary Ballance (77), who passed 50 for the eighth time in 10 Tests.

Captain Alastair Cook (76) was denied a first Test hundred since May 2013 while fellow opener Jonathan Trott made 59.

Long time coming
The 125-run stand between Alastair Cook and Jonathan Trott was England's first century partnership for the first wicket in 40 innings. The last one came at Dunedin in March 2013, between Cook and Nick Compton.

But the day belonged to Root, who continued his extraordinary run since he was dropped for the fifth Ashes Testexternal-link in Sydney in January 2014.

The 24-year-old is now averaging 103.7 since his recall to the side and has passed 50 in each of his last six inningsexternal-link - equalling the England record.

On a slowish pitch, he batted with a fluency that proved beyond any of the other England batsmen, reaching his ton off just 125 balls.

"Joe was probably a bit frustrated watching Alastair and I cloth it everywhere and not hit boundaries," said Trott. "He came in and showed the guys how.

"I don't think cricket is ever easy but he certainly makes it look relatively easy. He's mature beyond his years and a fine player to have in the dressing room."

Earlier in the day, the under-pressure Cook and Trott put on 125 for the first wicket, with 34-year-old Trott reaching his first half-century since his international recall before edging spinner Devendra Bishoo to slip.

Cook looked set for his 26th Test century but dragged the ball on to his stumps off pace bowler Shannon Gabriel. However, the captain has now passed 50 in four of his last seven innings.

Most innings without a century by an England opener
Mike Brearley: 41 (Jun 1976 - Jul 1981)
Alastair Cook: 34 (Jul 2013 - Apr 2015)
Tom Hayward: 33 (Dec 1901 - Jun 1909)
Mark Butcher: 30 (Nov 1998 - Oct 2003)

"Alastair and I were really pleased to put on a good start but I'm sure both of us are disappointed we couldn't go on and make a bigger score," added Trott.

"You don't spend all those hours in the nets to get fifties, you go there to get match defining hundreds.

"But we get on pretty well, we've got a good understanding in the middle and it was nice to get back in the groove."

Ian Bell departed in almost identical fashion to Cook, but Ballance continued his outstanding start to his Test career with a patient innings that saw him take advantage of the flagging West Indies bowlers.

The hosts fought back well in the evening session, claiming three quick wickets - with Ballance missing a loopy delivery, Moeen Ali farcically run out without scoring and Ben Stokes caught at deep mid-wicket for eight.

Stokes' ongoing battle with Marlon Samuels again reared its head, the Jamaican standing and saluting Stokes as he stalked towards the pavilion.

But England hold the upper hand and will look to build a sizeable lead when they bat tomorrow, before attempting to do what they could not in the first Test in Antigua, and bowl West Indies out for a second time.

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Alastair Cook (left) and Jonathan Trott run between the wickets
Alastair Cook and Jonathan Trott brought up England's first hundred partnership for the first wicket since March 2013
Devendra Bishoo (left) celebrates a wicket with Shiv Chanderpaul
Devendra Bishoo had Jonathan Trott caught at slip to claim his first Test wicket since Michael Clarke in April 2012
Joe Root bats
Joe Root joined Patsy Hendren, Ted Dexter, Ken Barrington and Alastair Cook as the only England batsmen to score six consecutive fifties
Gary Ballance bats
In 10 Tests, Gary Ballance has four hundreds and four 50s at an average of 62.53
Marlon Samuels salutes Ben Stokes off the field
Samuels (right) lined up to give Stokes an unusual send-off from the field