Jermaine Blackwood scored a brilliant 95 as West Indies won a thrilling Test match in Southampton that ended in the final session of the final day to take a 1-0 lead in the three-match series.
West Indies, reeling one point at 27/3, finished on 200/6 and beat England by four wickets to win the match that was played behind-closed doors in a bio-secure environment.
Blackwood fell short of a brilliant ton but did enough to steer his side past a spirited bowling effort by the hosts who set West Indies 200 to win on the last day.
John Campbell returned to the middle to hit the winning run after retiring hurt on one. West Indies captain Jason Holder was 14 not out after the all-rounder took a Test-best 6/42
It was a deserving victory for West Indies in a match that marked international cricket’s return from lockdown.
The second Test at Old Trafford starts on Thursday.
Blackwood withstood some serious pressure from a Jofra Archer-led England bowling attack, surviving chances on the way, but playing a thrilling innings nevertheless. He held firm for the West Indies as the visitors overhauled the victory target of 200 in a match that marked international cricket’s return from lockdown.
West Indies had reached tea with the scoreboard reading 143/4.
Blackwood, given several reprieves, was 65 not out at the break, with Shane Dowrich unbeaten on 15. England fast bowler Jofra Archer had taken two wickets before lunch as West Indies slumped to 27/3.
But Roston Chase (37) and Blackwood frustrated England before Barbados-born quick Archer broke a fourth-wicket stand of 73.
Blackwood, however, had made just five when he edged off-spinner Dom Bess only for England stand-in captain Ben Stokes to move too quickly in anticipation at slip and drop the chance.
And he was given another life on 20 when wicketkeeper Jos Buttler floored a left-handed chance down the legside off Stokes. Leg-byes were signalled but Blackwood would have been out on review had Buttler held on.
England then squandered a possible run-out chance when Zak Crawley fumbled.
Blackwood had moved on to 29 when he forced paceman Stokes past Rory Burns in the gully, although this time a review would have revealed a no-ball.
With West Indies needing exactly 100 more for victory, Archer defied a docile pitch to produce a rearing 90 mph delivery that Chase, on 37, could only divert to Buttler via his glove and helmet.
It was a crucial breakthrough for England, with Archer and fellow fast bowler Mark Wood having just a combined 1/135 between them in the West Indies’ first innings after they were both selected ahead of dropped veteran Stuart Broad.
But Blackwood completed an impressive 80-ball fifty before going on to make 95 but threw his wicket away with West Indies on the brink of win. But the visitors would not be denied.
Archer had earlier hit a useful 23 before he was last man out in England’s second innings 313 after they had lost five wickets for just 30 runs late on Saturday.
West Indies fast bowler Shannon Gabriel took 5/75 in 21.2 overs – his sixth five-wicket haul in his 46 Tests.
Archer then forced John Campbell to retire hurt on one after his first ball of the innings struck the opener a painful blow on the toe before taking two wickets in quick succession.
He had Kraigg Brathwaite, who top-scored with 65 in West Indies’ first innings 318, playing on for four.
And West Indies’ 7/1 became 7/2 when Shamarh Brooks was plumb lbw for a duck to Archer.
Shai Hope, whose lone two Test hundreds came in a win over England at Headingley three years ago, was then bowled for nine by Wood’s fourth ball of the day.
But, ultimately, England were left ruing being dismissed for just 204 in their first innings after Stokes, leading the side in the absence of Joe Root, won the toss and batted. England’s loss of five wickets for just 30 runs late Saturday, a collapse sparked by Holder’s dismissal of Stokes for the second time in the match, also proved to be a decisive moment.
Although they hold the Wisden Trophy, the West Indies have not won a Test series in England for 32 years. But this victory put them 1-0 up with two to play in a behind closed doors series ahead of next week’s second Test at Old Trafford.
Gabriel was declared player of the match. He had figures of 4/62 in the first innings and followed that up with 5/75 in the second innings.
(With AFP inputs)
You can watch highlights of day five here: