Brathwaite has so far topscored with 49 as Windies batted all day to reach 272-6 off 111 overs – a first innings lead of 85 with three days left in the match. He was solid in what was an outstanding display of Test match batting. West Indies battled hard and scored 242 runs off 90 overs on the day to gain the advantage.
Brathwaite faced 156 balls and hit three boundaries in over three hours at the crease. He put on 70 for the first wicket with John Campbell the lone man dismissed before lunch, for 47 off 118 balls – as the home team put on 96 runs in the first session. It was the third half-century opening stand in three innings for the pair.
Resuming on Saturday morning will be Darren Bravo (33 not out off 165 balls) and captain Jason Holder (19 not out off 58 balls). Bravo took over where Brathwaite left off and has so far played a watchful and patient knock to hold the innings together.
In between Shai Hope showed flashes of brilliance with five sparkling boundaries in 44 off 66 balls. He added 63 for the second wicket with Brathwaite in a period where bat dominated ball. Wicket-keeper Shane Dowrich scored 31 to follow up his unbeaten century in the first Test victory, while left-hander Shimron Hetmyer got 21 to follow up his 81 and 31 in Barbados.
“It’s not an easy pitch. Actually, it’s quite a tough pitch to bat on. Spending time in the middle is key. You have to play what you see. You can’t worry about what went before, just have to focus on the next ball. England bowled well, they really tested us in every way. They were quite good and made us work hard. It was tough, Test cricket isn’t easy... no day is easy. It’s good for the team, when see a teammate fighting … it gives you the strength to continue the fight,” Brathwaite said.
“Bravo has been exceptional. Just keep doing what he’s doing. Once he keeps going with the Skipper that will out us in a really good position. With a lead of 85 once we start well tomorrow that will be great for us.”
Brathwaite added: “The confidence is high in the camp. We are still underdogs but we’re doing a great job. Six days of cricket so far and we have been very disciplined. We were very impressive in the first match in Barbados and we have carried that discipline into this match here. We’re in a good position but we don’t want to get too far ahead… still work to do to win the match.”
Scores: ENGLAND 187 (Moeen Ali 60, Jonny Bairstow 52; Kemar Roach 4-30, Shannon Gabriel 3-45, Alzarri Joseph 2-38) WEST INDIES 272-6 (Kraigg Brathwaite 49, John Campbell 47, Shai Hope 44, Darren Bravo 33 not out, Shane Dowrich 31; Stuart Broad 3-42)
1st Test: Kensington Oval – Jan 23-27
2nd Test: Sir Vivian Richards Cricket Ground – Jan 31 to Feb 4
3rd Test: Daren Sammy Cricket Ground – Feb 9-13