Tailenders Jack Leach and Saqib Mahmood dragged England to a face-saving 204 all out at stumps against West Indies with a dogged last stand on the first day of their series-deciding Test at St. George's, Grenada).
Mahmood, the No. 11 batsman, joined Leach, the No. 10, when England was a perilous 114-9 straight after tea. They were expected to be bowling at the home side imminently.
But they batted on and on, frustrating West Indies by combining for 90 precious runs in 36.2 overs in England's best last-wicket stand in eight years. The team's next best partnership was 24 for the ninth wicket.
They saved England from utter humiliation by becoming the team's highest-scoring batters. Mahmood, playing his second test and batting for the first time, was last man out for 49 with two balls left in the day, while Leach racked his second best test score, an unbeaten 41.
Both gave West Indies one difficult chance each to be caught — Leach on 10 before tea, Mahmood on 15 — then defended with assurance and grew in confidence to strike back. The next ball after his drop, Mahmood hit over long on for the first six of his first-class career. He hit four boundaries in his 49 from 118 balls.
Leach hit five boundaries in his 41 from 141.
England was in tatters when they came together.
West Indies won the toss for a change and bowled first for a third straight test, but on a livelier pitch than the flat tracks which led to draws in Antigua and Barbados.
By lunch, West Indies had three England wickets, including captain Joe Root, who nicked behind for a duck. Doubly surprising was he fell to batting allrounder Kyle Mayers, brought in to shore up the batting at the expense of specialist spinner Veerasammy Permaul.
Root tied Mike Atherton for the most ducks as England captain — eight — and Mayers finished his first spell of medium pace with the remarkable figures of 5-5-0-2.
After lunch, England lost three wickets in three overs and 5-37 in the middle session as the West Indies seamers ran rampant.
Ben Stokes was caught and bowled by Alzarri Joseph, and Alex Lees and Jonny Bairstow gave up thin edges to Kemar Roach and Joseph respectively.
Jayden Seales knocked over Ben Foakes' middle stump, and Roach smashed Craig Overton's off stump.
At 90-8, Leach came in and helped Chris Woakes get England through tea, the second ball after which Woakes was bowled by Seales for 25.
Then Leach and Mahmood comfortably defied a West Indies that flagged with the old ball, and even when the home side's spirits and bowling picked up in the last 10 overs with the new ball. When Mahmood played across the line to part-timer spinner Jermaine Blackwood and chopped onto his stumps, he was upset.
But West Indies had more reason to be.