ST JOHN’S - England were closing in on a remarkable victory in the second Test after a seemingly moribund contest was brought to life by the brilliance of James Anderson and the seemingly ineradicable flaws in West Indies' game. Anderson was the inspiration during a helter-skelter morning session in which England ripped out six wickets and they took tea on 65 for 1, requiring another 78 to win.

West Indies lost 8 for 83 in 30.4 overs either side of lunch, surrendering a position of relative security with indecent haste and seemingly undoing four days of hard work. England, who had been blunted on the fourth evening as Kraigg Brathwaite compiled a determined century, seized the moment with alacrity after Anderson took three quick wickets with the new ball.

Victory would put England 1-0 up in the series. The prospect had seemed a distant one at the start of the day, with West Indies having erased their 165-run first-innings deficit only two down. There was little in the pitch to help them and it seemed appropriate that Anderson was the catalyst, as he was during England's last overseas Test victory, at Kolkata in 2012.

West Indies did remove Jonathan Trott for another single-figure score, bowled off his inside edge, but put down Gary Ballance with England on 48. They had already lost Jason Holder to injury, a nasty-looking roll of the ankle, and the appearance of Curtly Ambrose on the balcony, barking out orders, suggested their tea might be accompanied by a rocket.

A Test that had moved sluggishly through four days suddenly went into fast-forward as England took eight wickets in 30.4 overs to close in on an improbable victory. West Indies were dismissed for 307, Moeen Ali taking the last two wickets in three balls, to leave England with almost 60 overs in which to chase 143.

West Indies' hopes of staving off England had rested on their captain, Denesh Ramdin, after the tourists had claimed six wickets in the morning session to reignite their smouldering hopes of winning the second Test. Anderson was involved in all six, taking three with the new ball to go with a couple of catches and a brilliant run-out, as West Indies toppled from the relatively security of 224 for 2 to a perilous 286 for 8.

Ramdin had made the most of some fortune in battling his way to the interval. He might have been taken at gully, when the superb Anderson flogged something extra from the pitch to take the shoulder of the bat but a leaping Joe Root could not quite grasp the chance. He was also put down by Ballance in the sequence that led to Jason Holder's run-out and inside-edged Chris Jordan past his stumps. In the final over before lunch, a thin toe end off Moeen bounced out of Jos Buttler's gloves.

He held out for another 40 minutes before missing a full toss from Moeen to be struck on the boot in front of middle stump. Shannon Gabriel was then lbw playing back two balls later and England were eyeing a small chase in conditions that still appeared good for batting.

 The dismissal of Kemar Roach, chipping Moeen to mid-on five minutes before the lunch break, was a sign of the fallibility gene that has become such a problem for the health of West Indies' cricket.

The emotions of both sides had undergone a complete turnaround in little more than three hours. With the memory of Antigua still fresh and, in light of the poise shown by Brathwaite on the fourth day here, England took the field looking a little weary. Even the long-life batteries of Root must have been tested and, as he opened the bowling and aimed his offbreaks into the rough outside leg stump, it was easy to conclude that the lights had gone out on the contest.

As in the first innings, however, the arrival of the second new ball sparked a surge from England's bowlers, Anderson in particular. Stuart Broad provided encouragement when he could have had Brathwaite lbw, caught at slip or caught at short leg within his first five balls; but the West Indies opener was definitively out to the next delivery he faced, fending a bouncer from Anderson that straightened its line as he tried to turn the ball leg side only to be taken at gully.

Brathwaite's 116 had been worth a whole pile of nutmeg, the valuable spice that is one of Grenada's main exports, but West Indies once again set about squandering their riches. They were helped by Anderson, who prised out the two big middle-order wickets of Marlon Samuels and Shivnarine Chanderpaul, as West Indies lost 3 for 15 in seven overs.

Chanderpaul's dismissal owed plenty to the reaction of Alastair Cook, who grasped a rebound from second slip at the second attempt. Ian Bell should have taken the chance, as Chanderpaul fished at one angled across him but Cook's desperate, one-handed grab showed England would not let go of this match easily.

If England were going to take their chances they still needed West Indies to provide them and Samuels was the next to oblige. Having faced more than 100 deliveries, he was guilty of a moment's indecision to an Anderson delivery outside off and steered it through to Buttler as he tried to withdraw the bat. Jermaine Blackwood then picked out Anderson with a loose drive off Jordan.

The game was shaping itself irresistibly around England's attack leader and, even after completing an eight-over spell, he was central to West Indies losing a fifth wicket. Ballance produced a fabulous effort to take a uppish drive from Ramdin one-handed at extra cover but could only get finger tips to the ball. England were still contemplating the missed chance when Anderson scooped it up at mid-off and rifled in a direct hit at the non-striker's end, with Holder well out of his ground.





(OVERNIGHT: 202-2):

K Brathwaite c Root b Anderson    116

D Smith b Anderson    2

D Bravo c Buttler b Broad    69

M Samuels c Buttler b Anderson    37

S Chanderpaul c Cook b Anderson    7

J Blackwood c Anderson b Jordan    10

D Ramdin not out    28

J Holder run out    2

K Roach c Anderson b Ali    10

D Bishoo not out    15

S Gabriel lbw b Ali    0

EXTRAS: (b8, lb2, nb1)    11

TOTAL: (all out; 112 overs)    307

FOW: 1-3, 2-145, 3-224, 4-238, 5-239, 6-257, 7-260, 8-282, 9-307, 10-307

BOWLING: Anderson 22-7-43-4, Broad 21-2-71-1, Ali 24-9-51-3, Jordan 21-6-69-1, Stokes 8-0-34-0, Root 16-7-29-0.


A Cook not out    37

J Trott b Gabriel    0

G Ballance not out    26

EXTRAS: (w1, nb1)    2

TOTAL: (1 wicket, 19 overs)    65

FOW: 1-2

BOWLING: Roach 4-0-13-0, Gabriel 4-1-10-1, Holder 1.4-0-11-0, Samuels 5.2-0-13-0, Bishoo 4-0-18-0

TOSS: England

UMPIRES: Steve Davis (AUS), Bruce Oxenford (AUS)

TV UMPIRE: Billy Bowden (NZL)