Ollie Pope’s classy 91 not out gave England the upper hand on the first day of the deciding Test against West Indies at Emirates Old Trafford.
Pope added an unbroken 136 with Jos Buttler, who is on 56, to push England to 258-4, taking the initiative for the hosts in the evening gloom following two sessions of back-and-forth.
In reducing England to 122-4, West Indies had the chance to seize control after winning the toss and choosing to field for the second time in as many weeks.
The opportunity was accentuated by England’s decision to cover for Ben Stokes being unable to bowl by omitting batsman Zak Crawley in favour of an extra paceman – Chris Woakes at seven gave a lengthy look to the lower order.
But Pope and Buttler rattled along, and Pope was only denied a century before the close by bad light ending play with 4.2 overs left.
They have left England as favourites to win this Test, the three-match series, and deny West Indies a first success in this country since 1988.
As they bid to regain the Wisden Trophy – set to be replaced by a prize named after legendary pair Sir Ian Botham and Sir Viv Richards – they will have to be mindful of the Manchester weather.
Rain is forecast for the rest of the match, with days two and four looking at most risk. (BBC Sport)