West Indies passed England’s first innings total just before stumps on Friday, taking a 28-run lead in a curious deciding Test that has followed a similar pattern over the first two days in Grenada.
Tailender Kemar Roach took West Indies beyond England’s 204 when he cut Ben Stokes for four shortly before England took the second new ball.
A flurry of late boundaries lifted West Indies to 232 for eight at the close, thanks to an unbroken 55-run partnership between wicketkeeper Joshua Da Silva (54) and Roach (25).
Da Silva batted patiently and with style, bringing up his half century in 144 balls by flicking Craig Overton to the mid-wicket boundary.
Both teams have taken wickets seemingly at will with the new shiny ball, but have struggled once the ball has become soft and lost its zip by about the 40th over, making early inroads imperative.
After the final three partnerships for England put on 137 runs on Thursday, including a 10th-wicket stand of 90, West Indies followed similarly on Friday.
ENG v WI, 3rd Test, Day1: England recovers with defiant 10th-wicket stand against West Indies
A 49-run eighth-wicket stand between Da Silva and Alzarri Joseph (28) was followed by an even bigger partnership between Da Silva and Roach.
Earlier, England recovered from some poor early bowling, picking up six wickets for 45 after breaking a 50-run opening partnership between Kraigg Brathwaite and John Campbell.
Stokes, Saqib Mahmood and Overton took a wicket each before lunch as England sent Brathwaite, Shamarh Brooks and John Campbell back to the pavilion respectively in short order.
Brathwaite (17) and Brooks (13) were both plum lbw to balls that kept low, neither even bothering to review, while Campbell was well caught by wicketkeeper Ben Foakes for 35.
Overton had previously struck Campbell in the helmet twice with successive balls, dismissing him shortly afterwards.
West Indies batter Campbell struck on head by two balls in a row
The turnaround followed an inauspicious start to the innings by Chris Woakes and Overton, who wasted the new ball by bowling too wide, allowing the ever-stoic Brathwaite and the more attacking Campbell to leave the ball alone with monotonous regularity.
Brathwaite, who made a painstakingly slow but effective 160 in the second Test, took 14 balls to get off the mark.
England captain Joe Root replaced Woakes after only three overs, while Overton lasted five in his first spell.
It was hardly a surprise that Stokes got the first breakthrough by quickly finding a good line and length to send Brathwaite packing.
It must have been a delightful sight to see the back of the West Indies captain, who batted for nearly 12 hours in the first innings of the second Test and was unbeaten on 56 in the second innings.
Buoyed by Brathwaite’s departure, England turned the screw before lunch and then again after it, when Woakes bowled far better and was rewarded with three quick wickets as England got right on top, temporarily as it turned out.