ENG vs WI | Atkinson's debut seven-fer on Day 1 leaves Windies staring at huge first-innings deficit

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The 2024 English summer kicked off at Lord's with all eyes on the departing James Anderson but it was fellow pacer Gus Atkinson who stole the limelight on Wednesday. The quick's 7/45 decimated West Indies for 121 before fifties from Zak Crawley and Ollie Pope handed England a 68-run Day 1 lead.

‌‌Brief score: ENG 189/3 [Crawley 76, Pope 57; Seales 2/31] lead WI 121 [Louis 27, Hodge 24; Atkinson 7/45] by 68 runs 

Ben Stokes won a crucial toss on Wednesday and chose to bowl first under the lights and a canopy of clouds. Retirement-bound James Anderson took the shiny new red cherry for what could be the last time in his Test career but no fairytale start was in store as debutant Mikyle Louis announced himself with two gorgeous boundaries in the very first over. The youngster stood tall alongside skipper Kraigg Brathwaite for a challenging 34-run stand, until Stokes introduced another debutant Gus Atkinson into the attack. The rapid quick took just two balls to deliver as Brathwaite played one onto his stumps, followed by dispatching Kirk McKenzie a couple of overs later. Stokes, finally declared completely fit, added a third shortly after courtesy of a Harry Brook blinder at slip to end Louis' stay as the visitors trotted along to Lunch at 61/3.

The Windies pair of Kavem Hodge and Alick Athanaze began the second session positively, combining for a quick 27 runs off the first five overs. A Woakes maiden helped settle things down for the hosts and set the stage for a dream Atkinson spell. The Surrey pacer's variations had Athanaze and Jason Holder, batting at a career-high number six, caught at slip on consecutive deliveries, followed by a jaffa two balls later to nick off Joshua da Silva. Hodge then flashed a cut in the ensuing over straight to Ollie Pope at point as the Caribbean outfit crumbled to 88/7. Some rear-guard boundary action by Gudakesh Motie and Alzarri Joseph on either side of another Atkinson win blow took the visitors up to 121 before Anderson brought the innings to a close.

With less than an hour to go in the session, England's openers walked out to fiery opening spells from Alzarri and Jayden Seales that eventually culminated in the later nicking off Ben Duckett at the stroke of Tea, with the score reading a streaky 30/1. However, Ollie Pope set the pendulum swing in motion with three boundaries in an Alzarri over to begin the last session. Even as their opposite numbers continued to pose questions, Pope and Zak Crawley notched up convincing half-centuries, and the latter fell victim to Holder only after taking England past the visitors' score with a boundary. A quick 30-run third wicket stand between Crawley and Joe Root followed until a brilliant Seales yorker cleaned up the former for 76. Thereafter, a 36-run unbeaten partnership between Harry Brook and Root got England to Stumps with a secure 68-run lead.

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