West Indies’ battle against a dominant English side at home!
England to win this game!
The 1st Test Match of Wisden Trophy 2020 which is part of the 3-Test series between England and West Indies is nothing short of historic. This will be the first international game since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic and the first to be played in a bio-secure environment. With no spectators, no high fives and no saliva on the ball, this match could very well set the template for international cricket in the near future.
West Indies are the trophy holders having defeated England 2-1 at home last year where the English side wasn’t able to stand up to their bowlers. However, they have a poor record in English conditions for the past two decades. The hosts, on the other hand, have been holding on to their home fort for quite some time and it will be a big task for the West Indies to challenge that with the kind of inconsistent batting line-up they have.
It was irony at play on Day 1 of the 1st Test between England and West Indies. Regular rain interruptions meant that the first international game in 116 days saw only 106 balls being bowled! England went to stumps at 35 for the loss of one wicket with Dominic Sibley horribly misjudging an inswinger from Shannon Gabriel. His fellow opener Rory Burns looked rock solid and would the batsman to watch out for on Day 2. He had impressed during the tour of South Africa and looks set for a big score. Joe Denly rode his luck on an opening day and shall look for a better show tomorrow.
Kemar Roach will be the bowler to watch out for from the West Indies camp after his fiery spell on an opening day. Shannon Gabriel picked one wicket but will need to keep his line tight in the next game. Alzarri Joseph and Jason Holder didn’t harm their reputation with shorts burst on an opening day. The honours were shared between the two sides on Day 1 and with the weather prediction perfect for Day 2 and the track being flat, England’s famed middle order of Zak Crawley, Ben Stokes, Ollie Pope and Jos Buttler are likely to have a party on the field.
Weather Gods were kinder on Day 2 as nearly 70 overs were bowled before play was called off due to bad light. West Indies dominated the proceedings on Day 2 bowling out famed English batting for 204 runs with skipper Jason Holder bowling destructive spells for his 6 for 42 and Shannon Gabriel picking the other 4 wickets. Apart from skipper Ben Stokes and Dominic Bess towards the end none of the English batsmen applied themselves and got out after getting set. When bad light stopped play West Indies were 57 for 1 with Kraigg Brathwaite looking well set and Shai Hope just coming in.
Day 3 is said to be the moving day in Test cricket and West Indies would like to move on. A lead of 150 runs in this innings would make them favourites for this game. Shai Hope had played a memorable knock in the 2017 tour at Leeds and shall be looking to repeat that magic. Shamarh Brooks, Rostan Chase and Shane Dowrich must put a price on their wicket. For England, James Anderson and Mark Wood will have to get their act together in the morning session. Jofra Archer looked wayward on Day 2 and shall look for a fresh start tomorrow. The fate of this Test Match might well be decided in the pre-lunch session on Day 3. If West Indies manage to get through to lunch without much damage, it will be England chasing the game.
Jason Holder would have taken the 114 run lead in the 1st innings at the toss but West Indies skipper would be disappointed with the way his side batted on Day 3. While everybody in the top order got starts they failed to play a big knock. Roston Chase and Shamarh Brooks would be disappointed not having got more runs. Shane Dowrich with his gutsy knock ensured the lead went past the 100 run mark giving them a psychological edge. For England, James Anderson and Ben Stokes were the pick of the bowlers while Jofra Archer had a horrible day. England did well to end the days play at 15 for none playing out the 10 overs.
Rory Burns will be expected to play a big knock on Day 4 to rescue the side. The side bats deep but apart from Stokes, everyone else failed in the first innings. He needs to bat well with the tail. The top order should aim to sail through the pre-lunch session on Day 4 without much damage. This is where they can lose the game if Shannon Gabriel and Jason Holder get into the act. The duo would is expected to trouble the Englishmen with Kemar Roach playing the supporting role. For England Jos Buttler will need to bring all his experience to the table and guide the likes of Zak Crawley and Joe Denly. West Indies would feel they are in the driver’s seat in this game and shall need a perfect start tomorrow to put England on the mat.
At the end of Day 4, the game is evenly poised. The West Indies would think they are in the driver’s seat going into the last day with a wonderful bowling performance in the last session on Day 4. Shannon Gabriel was the hero for the side with skipper Holder keeping it tight throughout the day. England would be unhappy losing their last 5 wickets for 30 odd runs. Rory Burns and Dominic Sibley started well before Zack Crawley and Stokes looked to be turning the tide. With 170 run lead and two wickets in hand, the hosts seem to be struggling at the moment with the visitors having the upper hand.
Into Day 5 Holder would look to wrap up the English innings quickly and not allow them to set a target over 200 runs. One among the top 3 of Kraigg Brathwaite, John Campbell and Shai Hope will need to anchor the innings for the side to win. For England, they will hope to extend the lead above the 200 run mark and look at Jofra Archer and James Anderson to bowl them to a win. If Archer bowls well unlike in the first innings, the hosts have a good chance of winning. West Indies haven’t been good chasing in away conditions and have won just two games since the start of the millennia chasing in the 4th innings. But they had done the impossible at Leeds in 2017 chasing down 322 for a victory and shall take inspiration from that. It is West Indies’ game to lose from here.
England would be without the services of their regular skipper Joe Root who will be with his family for the birth if his child and Ben Stokes would be leading the start-studded outfit in this game. The side has been in marvellous form at home for the last few years and hasn’t lost a home series since 2014. They have lost just two Test Matches at home against West Indies in the 21 they have played since the start of the millennia. Stokes would be looking to maintain the status quo and start his Test captaincy career with a win.
The side has a very strong batting line-up with Zak Crawley and Dominic Sibley opening the innings for the side. Both these players are settling well as openers and shall look to provide with a good start. In the middle order Root’s absence would be felt but Joe Denly is a handy player. Jos Buttler, Rory Burns and Ben Stokes make the middle order formidable for the side. Chris Woakes at No. 7 is a handy player with the bat and completes a very strong batting line-up for the side.
The proven pair of James Anderson and Stuart Broad is likely to take the new ball in this game and they would make it difficult for the Windies. Jofra Archer’s fiery pace is likely to make it a challenge for the opponents and along with Stokes they are a formidable fast bowling unit. Dominic Bess’ job would be to trouble the West Indies batsmen with his off-breaks as they aren’t known to be best players against spin.
Ben Stokes (c), James Anderson, Jofra Archer, Stuart Broad, Jos Buttler (wk), Zak Crawley, Dominic Sibley, Joe Denly, Chris Woakes, Dominic Bess, Rory Burns
Rory Burns, Jofra Archer, Mark Wood, Ollie Pope, Zak Crawley, Jos Buttler, Dom Bess, James Anderson, Ben Stokes, Dom Sibley, Joe Denly
When Jason Holder leads his side into this game there would be huge expectations from the side. They had surprised everyone to defeat England at home in the last series and shall look to continue with the same form. They bring almost the same squad to this tour and the skipper would have high expectations from his team. They haven’t been the best tourists in the last decade or so and this is something that Holder would look to change here.
West Indies would need their openers Kraigg Brathwaite and John Campbell to see off the new ball. This is one area where the team has failed over the last two years leading to away defeats. The middle-order looks formidable with Darren Bravo, Shai Hope, Samarah Brooks and Shimron Hetmyer in the side. Hetmyer must match caution with aggression which he has failed to do so far. In Holder and Roston Chase, the side has depth in its batting and needs to make good use of it.
Shannon Gabriel and Kemar Roach will need to strike early. English top order lack experience and this is where the side will need to strike to do well in this game. Jason Holder is an experienced bloke and will make good use of his height and variation in length. Alzarri Joesph’s nippy bowling is likely to trouble the English batsmen with Chase being the lone spinner in the side.
Jason Holder (c), Kraigg Brathwaite, John Campbell, Darren Bravo, Shai Hope (wk), Shimron Hetmyer, Roston Chase, Shamarah Brooks, Kemar Roach, Alzarri Joesph, Shannon Gabriel
Kemar Roach, Shamarh Brooks, Jermaine Blackwood, Shane Dowrich, Jason Holder, John Campbell, Shannon Gabriel, Roston Chase, Shai Hope, Kraigg Brathwaite, Alzarri Joseph
|Hr||Temp||Rain||W. speed||W. direction||Clouds|
|00h||15||0 mm.||5.94 k/h||From: WSW||100%|
|03h||16||0 mm.||6.17 k/h||From: WSW||100%|
|06h||16||0.24 mm.||5.91 k/h||From: W||100%|
|09h||16||1.28 mm.||4.15 k/h||From: WSW||100%|
|12h||16||1.45 mm.||4.47 k/h||From: WSW||100%|
|15h||18||0.31 mm.||4 k/h||From: W||100%|
|18h||18||0.22 mm.||3.51 k/h||From: WSW||96%|
|21h||17||0.15 mm.||4.55 k/h||From: WSW||92%|
The weatherman predicts slightly overcast skies on July 08, the opening day of this game and rains on the third day. By and large batting would be difficult on the first day as the track that hasn’t been used for a long time due to absence of domestic cricket. Batting would be good from Day 2 onwards on this surface. Fast bowlers are likely to get a good bounce and carry from the thin layer of grass. We might witness a four-day finish due to the nature of the surface.
The Rose Bowl, Southampton hasn’t seen many test matches and we have seen contrasting performances by batsmen and bowlers in the games played so far. Fast bowlers have done well at this venue as there is a lot of assistance from the surface. Batsmen need to adjust to the dual paced nature of the track. They have to get their eyes in to do well here. Like most other English venues spinners come into the scene from Day 3 onward as there isn’t much turn on offer.
Three test matches have been played so far at this venue and in the two games that have seen results the side batting first has gone on to win the game. However, this track hasn’t been used for a while now and there would be assistance for the fast bowlers on opening day and hence we might see the captain winning the toss deciding to bowl first on this track.
Both the sides haven’t played much of competitive cricket this year and this will be an interesting thing in this game. With crowds absent from the stands the English side isn’t likely to have the home advantage where crowds are huge morale booster. The West Indies team has been an inconsistent one and their top order hasn’t done well over the last few games they have played and this is an area of concern. England has a formidable batting line-up and the better bowling attack between the two sides and this will make them favourites in this game.
England to win this game!