Chris Woakes picked up three wickets on the second afternoon in Grenada as England’s bowlers kept the tourists firmly in the hunt against the West Indies.
Defending a fragile first-innings score of 204, which leant heavily on a 90-run stand between last-wicket pair Jack Leach and Saqib Mahmood, the tourists had the Windies 134 for seven at tea.
An untroubled opening stand of 50 between Kraigg Brathwaite and John Campbell had threatened to put the hosts in control of the match, but a combination of unpredictable bounce and some hostile bumpers caused chaos in the ranks.
England picked off three prior to the lunch break before doubling their haul in a single spell from Woakes at the start of the second session, a timely contribution from a player who has labored through the majority of the tour.
Ben Stokes then dismissed the dangerous Kyle Mayers to open up the tail and give England a real chance of converting their modest total into a workable lead.
There was plenty of pressure on Woakes at the start of play but, just as he had in Antigua and Barbados, the experienced all-rounder wasted the new ball. Neither he nor Craig Overton were able to muster any real menace, allowing Brathwaite and Campbell a gentle bedding in period.
That was gratefully accepted by the watchful Brathwaite, who had batted over 16 hours in last week’s draw at the Kensington Oval, while Campbell allowed himself a few flourishes of the bat.
With an hour’s play in the bank and a fifty partnership in 99 balls, England were struggling to make any kind of impression. It fell to Stokes to get them on the board, capping a testing four-over spell with one that stayed down and rapped Brathwaite clean in front.
Neither bowler nor batter waited for the umpire’s decision, Stokes celebrating in understated fashion while the home captain headed for the pavilion.
Stokes also left the field, perhaps seeking treatment on a well-strapped knee, leaving Mahmood to probe for more variations in bounce. He did exactly that to see off Shamarh Brooks, scuttling a fuller delivery through at shin height to trap the number three in front of leg.
Campbell had been carrying the Caribbean cause but had grown increasingly uncomfortable along the way as Overton decided to challenge him with some short stuff.
Attempting to bob under a bouncer he was smashed flush in the helmet as he flailed backwards, pausing for treatment and assessment before the Somerset seamer offered up more of the same. He landed another head shot when Campbell turned his back on a pull and he was unsettled enough to brush a less accurate delivery off his glove and through to Ben Foakes.
With lunch taken at 71 for three, England went back to Woakes after the break. He was getting closer to a breakthrough, twice seeing DRS decisions go against him, and a difficult trip finally came up trumps with a double-wicket maiden.
First Nkrumah Bonner got in a tangle against a cross-seam delivery driven into the pitch, taking evasive action but leaving his bat in the line of fire and gifting Foakes another catch. Three balls later Jason Holder departed for a careless duck, suckered into a mis-hit pull and picking out the catcher at deep midwicket.
Jermaine Blackwood was living a charmed life too, reaching 18 with a couple of scares before running out of road when Woakes got the right side of a marginal lbw. The emergence of Mayers gave the home fans something to cheer, with a steer for four bringing up the 100 and a slap for six bringing a bruising end to Woakes’ impactful spell.
He made 33 alongside the defensive Josh Da Silva and looked ready to seize the moment, making it all the more surprising when he chipped an innocuous Stokes delivery straight to mid-on. It was gimme of a wicket, exposing the West Indian tail heading into the final session.