England v West Indies: Late slump leaves tourists as favourites
|First Test, day four, Ageas Bowl|
|England 204 (Holder 6-42) & 284-8 (Crawley 76, Sibley 50, Stokes 46)|
|West Indies 318 (Brathwaite 65, Dowrich 61)|
|England lead by 170|
England lost five wickets for 30 runs late on the fourth day to leave West Indies as favourites to win the first Test in Southampton.
Zak Crawley's 76, allied to 46 from Ben Stokes, looked to be batting England into a winning position.
Both fell in successive overs to begin the England slide as the tourists lifted themselves with the second new ball late in the day.
Pace bowler Alzarri Joseph removed Crawley and Jos Buttler after Jason Holder struck another blow in his battle with fellow captain and all-rounder Stokes.
Dom Bess survived being dropped and a tight lbw shout, only to be bowled by Shannon Gabriel, who had Ollie Pope play on four balls later.
Overall, England fell from 249-3 to 279-8, ultimately closing on 284-8 - a lead of 170.
With the pitch showing some uneven bounce, particularly from one end, England will have a chance of defending whatever target they set.
However, West Indies have been impressive throughout the match, and they have a superb opportunity to go ahead in the three-match series.
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No crowd, no problem
While there have been times when the behind-closed-doors environment has felt eerie and lifeless, a day when the two sides arm-wrestled for the initiative has set up what could be a grandstand finish.
England deserve credit for the way their batting improved from their first-innings 204 all out, albeit in conditions where they would have had no excuse for failing again.
There were times when West Indies were forced to retreat, but they never lost control, meaning they were only ever one or two wickets away from being on top.
Sunday morning will see England wanting to eke out as many runs as they can, but, whatever they set West Indies, all four results will be possible.
The final day will also reveal if England's strategy of batting first and omitting Stuart Broad was correct.
By choosing to bat on a damp first day, the hosts hoped they would reap the benefit of bowling last on a dry surface that would suit the extra pace of Mark Wood and Jofra Archer, and turn for off-spinner Bess.
We will soon know if they were right.
West Indies rewarded late on
West Indies started the day in a strong position - England were 99 behind with all 10 second-innings wickets in hand.
If the tourists were hoping to ram home their advantage, they were thwarted by some dogged England resistance in lovely batting conditions.
West Indies maintained their discipline, though. All of Holder, Kemar Roach and off-spinner Roston Chase kept a lid on England's scoring, and the rewards came.
Rory Burns was fluent for his 42 before he spooned Chase to point, Dom Sibley scored almost exclusively off his pads and was eventually caught down the leg side off Gabriel for 50, while Joe Denly's surrender to Chase was a gift.
When Crawley and Stokes were together, West Indies began to look tired and frustrated in the heat, but found inspiration when Holder got Stokes for the second time in the match.
Joseph yorked Buttler and could have had Bess twice, only for the fiery Gabriel to swing the match in his team's favour with a double strike.
Crawley makes his case
With captain Joe Root isolating after being at the birth of his second child, England's choice between Kent team-mates Denly and Crawley - both part of the team that won in South Africa last winter - was delayed.
Denly, who kept his place at number three, appeared to be the man in possession, yet he failed to capitalise on another start, while Crawley went on to make the highest score of the match - and his Test career.
Denly, aged 33 and playing his 15th Test, veers from looking composed to edgy. When he tamely chipped Chase to short mid-wicket for 29 it was the sixth time in eight innings that he had passed 25 but not reached 40.
Crawley can be loose, but has youth on his side. His strokeplay is elegant, and this innings was built on on-drives, back-foot punches and the occasional reverse sweep.
He added 98 with the typically authoritative Stokes, but when Stokes pushed a Holder wide one to gully and Crawley was sharply caught and bowled by Joseph in successive overs, West Indies grabbed control.
'It's going to be a riveting last day' - what they said
Former England captain Michael Vaughan on BBC Test Match Special: "I wouldn't want to chase over 200 on this wicket. I think 171 will be difficult with England's bowling.
"If one player gets you 60 or 70 West Indies should win the Test match.
"It's been a terrific Test. I've loved it and just wish there was a crowd here to watch it."
West Indies limited-overs all-rounder Carlos Brathwaite: "West Indies have their noses in front. They will sleep sweeter tonight than the England team would.
"I think 200 seems to be the target. Any less than that, West Indies will be happy. If not, England will feel like they have a chance. It's just going to be a riveting last day of Test cricket."