England’s under-fire openers Alastair Cook and Jonathan Trott shared a first half-century stand after safely negotiating the final session on day two of the second Test in Grenada.
The tourists closed on 74 without loss after finally ending the West Indies innings on 299, Stuart Broad finishing with four for 61 following a spell of three wickets in 20 balls.
The total was higher than England wanted when asking the hosts to bat on Tuesday morning, bolstered by a last-wicket stand of 52 between Devendra Bishoo and Shannon Gabriel, while the amount of time lost to rain could yet prove decisive to the result.
But if England were looking for positives, they found them in the evening as Cook and Trott survived a lively new ball burst and reached stumps in confident mood on 37no and 32no respectively.
Cook also had a personal milestone to celebrate amongst the steady accumulation, passing Alec Stewart’s 8,463 runs to become England’s second highest Test run-scorer behind Graham Gooch.
The pair were in the spotlight after struggling in Antigua last week, scoring 28 runs between them in four knocks, and needed a more persuasive showing to prove their relationship has legs.
This was a solid start but had a Trott inside edge hit the stumps in the third over or Cook succumbed to some shaky moments against Bishoo, familiar questions would have been asked.
If the unpredictable Grenadian weather allows, England will begin day three with high hopes of a major score for at least one of their top two as they search for a workable lead.
The West Indies resumed on 188 for five overnight, with Marlon Samuels having promised to turn his 94 not out into a seventh Test century.
He did not manage it before lunch, scraping together three singles a rain-affected mini-session of 8.5 overs.
England had taken a gambler’s review against Denesh Ramdin from the first ball of the morning, but without HotSpot or Snickometer at at their disposal, the case for a thin nick down leg-side was always slender.
There was a sense of frustration when the 40-minute lunch interval took place in dry conditions, turning to near farce when rain returned just 2.1 overs after play restarted.
When conditions were belatedly deemed playable at 2pm the match finally advanced, with wickets and runs both on the agenda.
Samuels reached his hundred after 226 deliveries, at long last going after a tempter and flashing a boundary over a gap between third slip and gully.
The Jamaican then threw his arms at a fuller delivery from James Anderson and sent a firm nick to Ian Bell at second slip.
Samuels had mocked England’s attempts on sledging on the first evening, but Anderson still offered an exaggerated send off, which briefly caught the umpires’ attention.
At the other end Broad was ramping up his quickest spell on tour and took the next three wickets in short order.
Denesh Ramdin was the first, forced on to the back foot and edging half-heartedly to Jos Buttler for 31.
Jason Holder, the day five hero in Antigua, nicked a cutter behind and Kemar Roach was caught at gully via deflections off bat and pad.
Holder’s stay was fun, including mighty pulled sixes from both Broad and Anderson, and a mis-hit that reached Moeen Ali on the half-volley.
Nobody expected much from Bishoo or Gabriel but the pair each hit career-best scores of 30 and 20no.
Among the expected mis-hits there were some genuinely fine strokes, Bishoo hitting four boundaries and Gabriel hammering Broad for six.
Moeen ended their party by trapping Bishoo leg before, but not before the last-wicket duo had reached their fifty stand.
The start of the Cook-Trott effort was markedly different.
The tension was palpable, not least when Roach went past the left-hander’s outside edge twice in the first over.
The Bajan drew a loose shot from Trott in his second over too, but the ball missed the stumps off the inside edge and scuttled away for four.
Gabriel produced serious pace in place of the injured Jerome Taylor, but lacked the latter’s control.
Ball quickly stopped beating bat, giving way to a period of quiet accumulation.
Cook passed Stewart when Roach offered up a full-toss and despite some discomfort against Bishoo’s leg-spin, the close arrived without incident.