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Holder wins early battle with Stokes as WIndies take control

SOUTHAMPTON, England (AP) — West Indies captain Jason Holder took a career-best 6-42 and won the first round of his private duel with England allrounder Ben Stokes as the touring side took control of the first test at the Ageas Bowl on Thursday.

Holder capitalized on more favorable bowling conditions under overcast skies on Day 2 to claim his seventh five-wicket haul — and sixth in his last 10 tests — and help dismiss England for 204. One of his wickets was Stokes, the stand-in England captain, who was dropped twice before getting drawn forward by Holder and edging behind for a team-high 43.

Shannon Gabriel used his pace and fuller length to nab the first three England wickets and then the last — of James Anderson, who put on a potentially crucial 30 runs with Dom Bess (31 not out) for the final wicket — to finish with 4-62.

The West Indies was 57-1 in reply after 19.3 overs when bad light stopped play just before 6 p.m. local time in Southampton. The teams never got back on the field. Holder vs. Stokes has been billed as the biggest subplot of the series and the world's top two allrounders have already made their mark on a series being played in an isolated environment with no fans because of the pandemic.

While Stokes rode his luck somewhat in scoring highest for England, Holder immediately settled into a rhythm with his accurate fast-medium bowling to rip through the middle and bottom order after the hosts resumed on 35-1.

In one spell, when Holder took his fifth wicket by reviewing an lbw decision against Jofra Archer (0) that was initially given not out, the West Indies captain took 3-1 in 14 balls. “My patience has definitely increased," Holder said. "Before, I was trying to bowl too many deliveries in one spell.

“I look at consistency, and patience was one of the things I was lacking. Using the crease is something I strive to do — and using the angles at the point of delivery. When you’re not as quick as some people, you’ve got to be skilful.”

Holder also said he definitely wouldn’t have batted first had West Indies won the toss. That was the choice Stokes made in his first call as England captain, and he may end up regretting it.

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