James Anderson joined an elite band of bowlers with 500 test wickets and Ben Stokes plundered a vital half century as England wrestled control of a compellingly low-scoring third test against West Indies at Lord’s on Friday.
Anderson’s milestone ball, a trademark inswinger that ripped out Kraigg Brathwaite’s middle stump in the third over of West Indies second innings, left an indelible mark on a rain-affected second day that ended under floodlights.
When play finally finished at 1830 GMT West Indies were fighting for what would be an astonishing series victory although they lost three wickets in knocking off a 71-run first innings deficit following England’s 194 all out.
Having reached 93-3, a slender lead of 22, they are underdogs although Shai Hope, their century-making hero in their second test victory at Headingley, is still there on 35.
Anderson would have been celebrating his 500 on Thursday had it not been for the exploits of all rounder Stokes who claimed a career-best six for 22 with a devastating spell of swing bowling straight out of the “Jimmy” textbook.
He had taken the first two West Indies wickets of the match before Stokes stole the limelight to skittle West Indies for 123, leaving Anderson tantalisingly on 499.
So when West Indies walked out to bat again with the sun finally poking through the low clouds, the excitement was palpable as Anderson took the new ball.
The fans did not have to wait long as, in his second over, he removed Brathwaite for the second time in the match and was immediately mobbed by his team mates as the crowd arose to acclaim England’s most successful bowler.
“The feeling is a bit of everything -- relief, then quite emotional,” Anderson, who took his first test wicket at Lord’s in 2003, said. “It was an amazing ovation. It’s such a special place for me. I can’t quite believe that I’ve got this many wickets or played as much as I have.”
The 35-year-old is the sixth bowler to reach 500 wickets, joining spin kings Muttiah Muralitharan, Shane Warne and Anil Kumble and pacemen Glenn McGrath and Courtney Walsh on the list.
When Stuart Broad trapped hapless Kyle Hope lbw for one, West Indies were teetering on 21-2 with their hopes of a first series win in England since 1988 fading.
This West Indies team is unrecognisable from the one humiliated in a crushing first test loss at Edgbaston though and Hope’s younger brother Shai and Kieran Powell played impressively in a 48-run third-wicket stand.
With West Indies only three runs in arrears captain Joe Root turned to Anderson for a second spell and was immediately rewarded as Powell, who made a calm 45, saw his off stump kissed by a beauty that nipped back up the slope.
Hope and Roston Chase (3 not out) both survived England reviews for lbw before the close while a fired-up Anderson was warned twice by the umpire for running on the pitch.
England begun the day on 46-4 but only 4.2 overs were possible before lunch, in which time they moved to 64-5 with Kemar Roach removing Dawid Malan.
Two balls after an extended lunch break, Stokes was dropped on 24 by a diving Kyle Hope off the luckless Shannon Gabriel who later bowled Stokes with an inswinger only to be no-balled.
He did get his man two balls later though with a carbon copy ball to bowl Stokes for a 10-boundary 60.
Earlier Stokes had been given solid support by Jonny Bairstow, sharing a 56-run sixth wicket partnership that ended when Bairstow fell lbw to the impressive Roach for 21.
After Stokes departed Moeen Ali edged Roach to Kyle Hope to give the paceman his fifth wicket and a place on the Lord’s honours board and England were 11 ahead with two wickets left.
Broad, first with Toby Roland-Jones, then with old sparring partner Anderson who scored eight, flung the bat for an entertaining knock of 38 as England eeked out another 60 runs that could prove decisive in the final reckoning.