England took advantage of some loose West Indian batting, but another unresponsive Caribbean pitch prevented a decisive statement on day one of the second Test in Grenada.
Captain Alastair Cook won the toss and put the hosts into bat, tempted by morning rain showers and damp, humid conditions – but there was little to excite his four-pronged seam attack.
James Anderson, fresh from becoming the country’s leading Test wicket-taker in Antigua last week, did topple Kraigg Brathwaite with an extravagant inswinger in the third over, but that that aside the West Indies were responsible for their own problems.
Devon Smith, Darren Bravo and Shivnarine Chanderpaul all played shots they would live to regret, assisting England where the track would not. After 70 overs – when play ended early for bad light – the hosts were 188-5, with Marlon Samuels’s unbeaten 94 forming the backbone.
Despite his bowlers churning out 130 overs in the fourth innings of the drawn first Test, Cook pressed them back into action after being persuaded by the early morning conditions.
Rain delays meant just 15 overs were possible before lunch, but England saw off both openers in that time.
Anderson struck with the first ball of his second over, Brathwaite overbalancing as it hooped through the air and clattered leg stump.
Anderson, relieved at having passed Sir Ian Botham’s landmark in the series opener, came close to another success when Bravo saw a thick edge fall just in front of Ben Stokes.
But at the other end Stuart Broad was making poor use of the new ball.
He may have conceded just eight runs from five overs, but bowled too short to cause concern.
His replacement, Chris Jordan, found better lengths and picked off Smith just before the interval.
Smith, having become the first Grenadian to play Test cricket on the island, saw a sharp chance grassed at leg-slip by Yorkshire’s Gary Ballance and then fell for 15 just two balls later.
He appeared to be in two minds about whether he had nicked a wide delivery from Jordan, but curiously declined to review when he was given out. The absence of HotSpot technology may have contributed to that, but he would not have had the problem had he not flailed at one that could easily have been left.
The trail went cold after play resumed, Samuels taking 21 balls to get off nought as he declined England’s tempters outside off stump.
He and Bravo used up almost 15 overs for the addition of 37 runs, only for the latter to throw away his hard work.
Emboldened by a sumptuous drive for four, he was gone two balls later, fencing indecisively at Broad and finding Cook’s safe hands at slip.
There was even worse to come for the West Indies when their anchorman Chanderpaul guided Stokes to point with minimal prompting.
For Stokes, who had earlier hurt his knee sliding in the outfield, it was a much-needed moment of fortune.
After 32 wicketless overs last week, he struck gold with just his second delivery here courtesy of a confused stroke from Chanderpaul, who failed to give himself a solid base from which to hit.
Samuels shepherded the score into three figures before the break, but he and Jermaine Blackwood had plenty to do.
Samuels had endured 102 balls of self-denial before he produced his own rush of blood on 32.
He aimed a big drive at Jordan, undeterred by a wide ball which shaded away even further off the pitch.
The edge raced to Cook at catchable height – but the chance popped out at pace.
With the pitch flattening out, it was a chance England needed to take.
Broad let Blackwood slip through his fingers, failing to gather a firm return catch in his follow through, but the first Test centurion could only progress to 26.
Jordan did just enough off the seam to take the bat out of the equation and strike Blackwood’s pad in front of leg stump.
Billy Bowden ruled in the batsman’s favour, only for a smart DRS review by Cook to pay dividends.
That left the West Indies vulnerable at 129-5 but Samuels responded to the pressure by cutting loose with four boundaries in eight balls.
His half-century had taken a painstaking 141 deliveries, but the entertainer in Samuels had begun to emerge.