Towards the end of another cloudless, mesmeric day in the second Test, England finally shook off West Indies. All match long, the tourists had snapped at their opponents' heels, never exerting a tight grip but hanging on desperately in the belief that anything could happen if only they could stay in touch.
The assessment, almost smug in its certainty, that England would bat all day, declare some time today with a lead of 300, and two, maybe three, men making a hundred, had been rendered nonsense. England led all right but by a mere 58 and their only centurion was their captain, Andrew Strauss, who took his overnight 102 to 141, his second hundred in two matches.
A gripping burst of fast bowling from Kemar Roach was both incisive and intimidating. He is the real deal. Thus, the game seemed to be on. This maligned West Indies team were defying their critics again.
But then England's exemplary bowlers took charge. Before the deficit had been wiped out four wickets had fallen, including the most prized of all belonging to Shiv Chanderpaul, whose maverick stroke, ill-befitting the circumstances, suggested that after long association he had been tainted by his colleagues. And before the day was done another two wickets went down.
There is time for a revival and a small lead on a wearing pitch should not be sniffed at, though the three runs it stood at when the third day's play finished yesterday needs to be increased.
The two men in occupation made hundreds in their first innings, Marlon Samuels and Darren Sammy. But they will have to replicate their heroics almost exactly for West Indies to stay in contention and there is a limit to hanging on in Test matches. In the end it becomes debilitating and if England were to be denied a series-clinching victory from this position West Indies would truly be on the way back.
West Indies have made an unfortunate habit of this. In Mumbai late last year they made 590 followed by 134 and in Barbados earlier this a total of 449 was succeeded by 148. This must have been on their minds as they came out to bat after tea yesterday.
But before the fifth over was finished both openers had fallen to Jimmy Anderson, against whose manipulative trickery they had no answer. Better footwork would have helped. Kieran Powell hung out his bat and had his leg stump uprooted from an inside edge. Adrian Barath shuffled across and was struck on both pads in front.
Chanderpaul seemed in an unusually frisky mood. He played more attacking shots in his first two overs than he did in two long innings in the first Test at Lord's. Somehow, it seemed all wrong, like nuns up to misdemeanours. Before the start of the 10th over, to be bowled by Stuart Broad, England had a chat, presumably about lines of attack and field placings.
Broad produced a bouncer, Chanderpaul hooked and the ball spiralled down to long leg ,where Jonathan Trott firmly planted two feet and made it look simple. If that was damage, catastrophe ensued with three wickets for Tim Bresnan, all lbw and all pretty stone dead. It was lovely bowling by Bresnan, straight and of a full length and, after his struggles in the first innings a pretty strong retort to those who are wondering what Steve Finn, for one, has to do to get into this England side. Wait is the obvious answer.
Bresnan had 3 for nine in 26 balls, dismissing Darren Bravo, Denesh Ramdin and Kirk Edwards. The last of those had a certain poignancy about it. Edwards had been in the team hotel all day suffering from flu. When wickets started to tumble a taxi was sent for and, if he did not quite pad up on the way, it was a close-run thing. He lasted two balls and was fortunate to survive the lbw appeal to the first.
From the start it was an absorbing day. England had ended the second evening in such dominant fashion that it was difficult to imagine anything but more of the same. Kevin Pietersen came out bristling, sweeping a boundary and booming two through midwicket.
But pushing forward to Ravi Rampaul he was struck on the pad in front and the review he requested always seemed superfluous. Ian Bell played a princely square drive almost immediately and the sense was that he would stay all day.
But when the new ball arrived, Roach was stunningly rapid and effective. Bowling from wide of the crease he seemed to have rid himself of the no-ball tendency which had blighted him the previous day. Bell was given the benefit of the doubt when Roach beat him on the forward prod but a review sent him on his way.
Poor Jonny Bairstow was disrupted immediately by the short ball. He simply did not look up to playing it with any confidence, groping nervously, taking his eye off it, moving about the crease. Fast bowlers the world over will be lining him up and he may not look to get on the front foot awhile.
There was something slightly grotesque about his departure, a leading edge to a short ball which looped to mid-on. There are many good things about Bairstow but he has already learnt some harsh lessons about the demands of big-time cricket.
A brisk innings from Broad and a more studious one from Bresnan ensured that England took a precious lead. Their innings ended after a peculiar delay in play.
Tea was delayed under regulations because nine wickets were down. Soon after the footholes at one end needed repairing, It took 10 minutes for the job to be done as the players stood around like gawpers at a car accident, when all the time tea could and should have been taken. Only in cricket. England should win some time today. But that was said at Lord's. Then again, only in cricket.
Trent Bridge (Second and third days of five): West Indies are leading England by three runs with four second-innings wickets in hand
West Indies won toss
WEST INDIES First Innings (Saturday Overnight 304-6)
M N Samuels c Pietersen b Bresnan 117
261 balls 16 fours
*D J G Sammy c Pietersen b Bresnan 106
156 balls 1 six 17 fours
K A J Roach c Strauss b Bresnan 7
18 balls 1 four
S Shillingford st Prior b Swann 16
21 balls 2 fours
R Rampaul not out 6
7 balls 1 four
Extras (b8 lb18 w1 nb1) 28
Total (109.2 overs) 370
Fall: 1-9, 2-26, 3-42, 4-63, 5-125, 6-136, 7-340, 8-341, 9-360.
Bowling: J M Andeson: 30-12-73-2 (9-4-22-2; 6-2-9-0; 2-2-0-0; 2-1-3-0; 9-2-35-0; 2-1-4-0), S C J Broad: 27-4-81-2 (1nb) (5-0-19-1; 5-0-15-1; 3-2-2-0; 4-1-13-0; 3-0-10-0; 7-1-22-0), T T Bresnan: 27-4-104-4 (1wd) (7-3-15-0; 6-1-23-1; 2-0-15-0; 4-0-24-0; 2-0-6-0; 6-0-21-3), G P Swann: 20.2-4-62-2 (2-0-7-0; 7-2-16-1; 1-0-1-0; 10-2-38-0; 0.2-0-0-1), I J L Trott: 5-0-24-0 (1-0-1-0; 1-0-5-0; 3-0-18-0).
ENGLAND First Innings
*A J Strauss c Ramdin b Sammy 141
303 balls 22 fours
A N Cook c Ramdin b Rampaul 24
59 balls 4 fours
I J L Trott lbw b Rampaul 35
54 balls 7 fours
K P Pietersen lbw b Rampaul 80
114 balls 1 six 11 fours
I R Bell lbw b Roach 22
33 balls 3 fours
J M Bairstow c Chanderpaul b Roach 4
†M J Prior b Sammy 16
20 balls 2 fours
T T Bresnan not out 39
93 balls 5 fours
S C J Broad c Sammy b Shillingford 25
47 balls 3 fours
G P Swann c Sammy b Samuels 1
J M Anderson lbw b Samuels 0
1 2 balls
Extras (b9 lb10 w3 nb19) 41
Total (123.4 overs) 428
Fall: 1-43, 2-123, 3-267, 4-300, 5-308, 6-336, 7-363, 8-416, 9-426.
Bowling: K A J Roach: 25-1-90-2 (11nb, 1wd) (7-1-18-0; 3-0-13-0; 5-0-17-0; 7-0-23-2; 3-0-19-0), R Rampaul: 32-8-75-3 (2nb, 2wd) (11-2-28-1; 5-1-9-1; 5-2-15-1; 4-1-9-0; 7-2-14-0), D J G Sammy: 34-3-120-2 (2nb) (10-0-46-0; 5-0-23-0; 3-0-4-0; 1-0-6-0; 15-3-41-2), S Shillingford: 26-4-110-1 (9-1-46-0; 12-1-53-0; 5-2-11-1), M N Samuels: 6.4-2-14-2 (5-1-13-0; 1.4-0-1-2).
Progress: Day Two: Lunch: 8-0 in 5 overs (Strauss 4, Cook 2), 50 in 18.4 overs, 100 in 30.1 overs, Tea: 123-1 in 34 overs (Strauss 45, Trott 35), 150 in 41.1 overs, 200 in 54.5 overs, 250 in 63.4 overs, Close: 259-2 (Strauss 102, Pietersen 72). Day Three: 300 in 80.1 overs, Lunch: 340-6 in 94 overs (Strauss 125, Bresnan 4), 350 in 98.1 overs, 400 in 113.6 overs, Tea: 428 all out in 123.4 overs.
WEST INDIES Second Innings
A B Barath lbw b Anderson 7
16 balls 1 four
K O A Powell b Anderson 1
D M Bravo lbw b Bresnan 22
43 balls 4 fours
S Chanderpaul c Trott b Broad 11
15 balls 2 fours
M N Samuels not out 13
53 balls 2 fours
†D Ramdin lbw b Bresnan 6
23 balls 1 four
K A Edwards lbw b Bresnan 0
*D J G Sammy not out 0
Extras (b1) 1
Total (for 6, 26 overs) 61
Fall: 1-5, 2-14, 3-31, 4-45, 5-61, 6-61.
To bat: S Shillingford, K A J Roach, R Rampaul.
Bowling: J M Anderson: 7-2-12-2 (7-2-12-2), S C J Broad: 11-4-36-1 (6-1-30-1; 5-3-6-0), G P Swann: 2-1-2-0 (2-1-2-0), T T Bresnan: 6-2-10-3 (6-2-10-3).
Umpires Aleem Dar (Pak) and Asad Rauf (Pak).
TV umpire M Erasmus (SA).
Match referee RS Mahanama (S Lanka).
Timeline: how third day unfolded
11.10am wicket. England 267-3, Pietersen 80
Ravi Rampaul strikes for West Indies; his superb ball moves off the seam and traps Kevin Pietersen lbw. KP asks for a review but the flamboyant batsman has to walk.
11.54am wicket. England 300-4, Bell 22
Kemar Roach's quick delivery shapes back on to Ian Bell's pads. A huge appeal is turned down by Aleem Dar but, after West Indies called for a review, Bell is given out.
12.23pm wicket. England 308-5, Bairstow 4
Roach is all smiles as he sends the Jonny Bairstow back to the dressing room; the rookie sent a leading edge up to Shiv Chanderpaul at mid-on. Matt Prior follows before lunch.
2.20pm wicket. England 363-7, Strauss 141
A fine captain's knock ends with Andrew Strauss caught behind. Shane Shillingford claims his first victim, Stuart Broad, and England tumble to 428 all out.
4.32pm wicket. West Indies 5-1, Powell 1
James Anderson makes a stunning start with the first ball of his second over, hitting Kieran Powell's leg stump off an inside edge. He then traps Adrian Barath leg before.
5.04pm wicket. West Indies 31-3, Chanderpaul 11
A massive moment. The danger man is gone; Chanderpaul top-edges a pull high to fine leg and Jonathan Trott takes the catch. Darren Bravo also falls, lbw to Tim Bresnan.
6.30pm stumps. West Indies 61-6
Both the wickets of Denesh Ramdin and the flu-stricken Kirk Edwards fall on 61 as the Windies continue to stutter. Strauss's side trail by just three runs. Giles Lucas
34.51: Shivnarine Chanderpaul's Test average when batting at No 4 – compared to 54.46 at No 5
80: Total runs made by Chanderpaul in four Test innings at Trent Bridge
235: The West Indies' lowest Test total at Trent Bridge - a first-innings score in a victory in 1966
4: Times Andrew Strauss has fallen near 150 v the Windies in Tests – previously hitting 137, 142 and 142