ENGLAND V WI, 1ST TEST

Atkinson's double puts England in ascendancy on first morning at Lord's

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Atkinson picked two wickets in his first spell in Test cricket
Atkinson picked two wickets in his first spell in Test cricket © AFP

In James Anderson's farewell Test, debutants from either side shone in the first session of the opening game, with England's regular strikes helping them gain the early advantage over West Indies. The visitors went into Lunch on Wednesday (July 10) at 61/3.

It was a Test match that bridged generations, featuring the 41-year-old Anderson in his final game and three debutants: 23-year-old wicketkeeper Jamie Smith and 26-year-old pacer Gus Atkinson for England, and the 23-year-old Mikyle Louis who was partnering Kraigg Brathwaite at the top for the visiting side. Ben Stokes decided to bowl in overcast conditions at Lord's, with both elevens announced a day earlier.

The fearlessness of the new generation was on display straightaway as Louis, despite edging a full delivery from Anderson for a four in the opening over, did not hold back his drive past mid-off when the veteran pacer went full again. Woakes opened the attack with Anderson and both operated on a good length, getting movement in the air and off the pitch. Brathwaite was squared up on multiple occasions and struggled to get going. On the other hand, Louis exuded confidence as he cut away a short delivery from Woakes before executing a pick-up shot over the deep square leg fence off Woakes for the first six of the match. Despite his probing lines, Anderson couldn't pick up a wicket in his first spell, in which he bowled five overs for 11 runs, including two maidens.

Another debutant who made a good first impression was Atkinson, who was introduced into the attack in the 11th over. He kept it full to Brathwaite and had him inside-edging the ball onto the stumps. Woakes thought he had Louis caught behind and umpire Nitin Menon thought so too as he lifted the finger, only to reverse the decision moments later as the batter made successful use of the DRS. It started to drizzle when Atkinson bagged his second by having Kirk McKenzie caught at second slip. Atkinson also found the outside edge of Alick Athanaze's bat but soft hands from the batter meant the ball landed short of the slip cordon.

The focus was also on Stokes and his fitness, with the England captain having decided to skip the IPL and the T20 World Cup to get back to optimum shape. He brought himself at the start of the 14th over and bowled till the close of the first session, bowling eight overs in his first spell. He was moving the ball both ways and mixing his lengths to keep the batters guessing. He even found the inside edge of Louis's bat and fortunately for the batter, the ball missed the stumps and went to the fence.

Stokes's persistence eventually reaped reward as Louis got a thick outside edge to third slip where Harry Brook pulled off a stunning one-handed catch. Kavem Hodge struck a four off Stokes square on the off side to help West Indies to 50 in the 24th over. Anderson bowled four overs from the other end, and was finding more swing in his second spell. The rare occasion that Anderson erred with his length was when Hodge struck his second boundary, playing a cut shot, as he and Athanaze saw West Indies through to Lunch without any damage.

Brief scores: West Indies 61/3 (Mikyle Louis 27, Kavem Hodge 12*; Gus Atkinson 2-2, Ben Stokes 1-14) vs England.

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