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Sunday Jul 19 2020

Rain frustrates England on Day 3 of West Indies Test

 General view of rain covers on the pitch inside the stadium before the start of play, as play resumes behind closed doors following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Photo: Reuters

Play was abandoned on the third day of the second Test between England and West Indies as rain fell persistently over Old Trafford on Saturday.

Persistent rain, which ensured the pitch and square were fully covered, meant there was no play before lunch, with England looking to level a three-match campaign at 1-1.

Star all-rounder Ben Stokes top-scored with 176 on Friday and shared a partnership of 260 for the fourth wicket with opener Dom Sibley, who made a painstaking 120, as England piled up 469-9 declared after being sent into bat.

"It's not ideal, turning up today with the weather around," Stokes told Sky Sports on Saturday. "It's looking like we'll have to take 19 wickets in two days.

"But the wicket has offered something throughout the whole Test so far, so we just need to make sure we can expose that. And we know that once we get on a roll, anything is possible with the bowling attack we have."

Before Friday's close, Sam Curran had John Campbell lbw, with West Indies set to resume on 32-1.

England are looking to bounce back after a four-wicket loss in the first Test at Southampton last week in a campaign that marks international cricket's return from the coronavirus lockdown.

Stokes is a member of a revamped bowling unit, with England resting seamers James Anderson and Mark Wood.

They dramatically found themselves without Jofra Archer for this match when the express quick was omitted for a breach of the bio-secure regulations governing the series.

But the England and Wales Cricket Board announced Saturday that, following a disciplinary hearing, Archer would be available for the third Test starting on Friday.

'Learning curve' 

Stokes found himself captaining England at Southampton after regular skipper Joe Root missed the first Test to attend the birth of his second child.

"It's never nice losing a Test match," said Stokes, with the West Indies bidding for their first series win in England for 32 years.

"But I enjoyed the whole process of being captain for the five days."

Defeat continued a worrying trend for England, who have now lost the opening Test in eight of their last 10 series.

But, most recently, they came from 1-0 down in South Africa earlier this year to win a four-match series 3-1.

"I don't know really (why England are slow starters)," said Stokes.

"But we are a very good team at bouncing back from defeats in the first game of a series. We've proven that."

He added: "If we keep producing days and games like we generally do after a first Test, then we'll become closer to being the number one team in the world, which is a goal of ours.

"We're in a great place and in two or three years' time, the tough times we've experienced will be a great learning curve."