England’s battle for survival against turbocharged West Indies!
England to win!
If cricket needed a perfect comeback from the Covid-19 crisis it got its due in the 1st Test Match at Southampton. Few punters would have staked their money on the West Indies to take a 1-0 lead in the series but the spirited visitors defied all odds to come up with a spectacular performance to win the game. West Indies got into the driver’s seat in the game and dominated it for most parts to earn a comprehensive victory. The side will look to continue with the same form and aim at winning a Test series on English soil first time since 1988.
The English side would have an uphill challenge on its hand. They haven’t found themselves in this situation too often in a home Test Series for a while. Joe Root returning to lead the side will be a huge confidence booster for the team. However, having lost a Test series against West Indies only last year they will have to guard their fort carefully. The build-up to this game is perfect and given that the pitch is expected to be lively we expect to have a good game on our hands.
What an exciting day of Test cricket it was. It was reminiscent of the good old days when batsmen would blunt out bowling attacks with their patience. Jason Holder would have wanted the score to read better than 207 for 3 after he put in the English side to bat and had on the mat at 81 for 3 seeing the back of Joe Root. But the final 60 overs of the day belonged to Dominic Sibley and Ben Stokes who frustrated the West Indies bowling attack with perseverance. Roston Chase was the surprise performer with the ball for the West Indies on a pitch that is offering nothing to the spinners! The visitors messed it up dropping Sibley twice and paid the price. It was a casual approach from them at times and ended up surrendering the initiative on Day 1.
Going into Day 2, Sibley looks well set for his second Test hundred and Stokes is likely to play his natural attacking game having the psychological edge over the West Indies bowling attack. With Ollie Pope, Jos Buttler, Chris Woakes and Sam Curran to follow England would be eying a big score on day 2. Holder and his men would need to gather the steam and aim at getting them out quickly. The pre-lunch session would be crucial and it might well decide the fate of the game. Shannon Gabriel and Alzzari Joseph bowled well without success on the opening day and shall be looking for their well-deserved rewards. Holder and Kemar Roach will look for a better start on Day 2. At the end of Day 1, the English dressing room would definitely be the happier one.
If Day 1 saw the England batting show its grit and determination, Day 2 saw the hosts take charge of the Test match. Had it not been for some quick wickets in the middle order England would have posted a much higher score. The 260-run stand between Dominic Sibley and Ben Stokes might have just tilted the Test Match in England’s favour. Stokes left no room for doubt on being No. 2 all-rounder in ICC Rankings for Test Matches. His 176 has set the game for his side with Sibley quietly making an impression in the game. The fact that Roston Chase ended up being West Indies’ best bowler in the 1st innings tells a sorry tale about their performance with the ball. Shannon Gabriel and Jason Holder were unlucky to have not fetched better rewards despite quality bowing from them. Losing John Campbell early has put the visitors under pressure at stumps on Day 2.
Going into Day 3 the visitors will need to get through the first session without losing too many wickets. This is one session that may well decide where the West Indies would stand. They have seen more batting collapses over the last two years than any major Test side. One among Kraigg Brathwaite, Shai Hope and Shamarh Brooks will need to play big innings and hope for good contributions for Jermaine Blackwood, Chase and Holder on the other end. For England, Chris Woakes has looked brilliant and Sam Curran too impressed. With the experience of Stuart Broad, they have the attack to dismantle the opponent’s batting line-up. It’s still an open game if West Indies bat well on Day 3 but for the second consecutive day there would be more joy in the English dressing room.
For a Test Series that has been so keenly awaited, the Weather Gods haven’t been showing their blessings. We saw disruptions in the 1st Test Match at Southampton and now Day 3 of the 2nd Test Match has been completely washed away. This creates more problems for the hosts. West Indies are unlikely to win this game from here after the mammoth score of 469 for 9 that Joe Root and his men have posted on the board. Englishmen have a maximum of 196 overs to pick 19 wickets from here to win the game. This we say without taking into account England’s need to bat in their second innings. Jason Holder would now want his men to guard the fort and play for a draw from here.
Going into Day 4 the weather predictions are good for the moment and the hosts will need to strike early in the first session to create their chances. James Anderson, Sam Curran and Chris Woakes will need to get into the act early on as a good session for the West Indies will diminish their prospects in the game. Holder would want his top order of Kraigg Brathwaite, Shai Hope and Shamarh Brooks to frustrate the English bowlers and take their 1st innings to Day 5. They have good batting down the order. Draw seems to be the most likely possibility from here but with the track having soaked in some moisture the English bowlers will get some assistance early in the game.
Day 4 was the most intense day in this game. It had all the drama with the balance constantly shifting. West Indies looked all set for a big score after the first session but wickets in quick succession saw them fighting to save follow-on. They finally evaded thanks to Roston Case playing a solid knock with the tail finishing at 287, 182 runs behind England’s 1st innings total. Kraigg Brathwaite and Shamarh Brooks set the platform denting England’s hopes. Joe Root would be extremely upset at his side’s failure of enforcing a follow-on which has brought down their chances of winning the game. Stuart Broad and Chris Woakes bowled well but rest of the bowlers allowed Jason Holder’s side to take the game away. At 37 for 2, England has a 219 run lead in the game and around 96 overs on Day 5 to make a match out of it.
On Day 5 Joe Root and Ben Stokes would be looking to set up a quick-fire partnership. The likes of Rory Burns and Ollie Pope will need to improvise if called to bat. The hosts will not look at batting much beyond the drinks break in the first session and have a shot at the West Indies for close to 75 overs. It will be important for Jason Holder and his men to cut through this strategy with good bowling in the morning session. Shannon Gabriel, Holder and Alzzari Joseph will have to bowl to contain the English side rather than allow them to score quickly as they did in the 8 overs they spent at the crease. West Indies have seen two batting collapses already in the series and their character would be tested with the bat on Day 5. Shai Hope, Kraigg Brathwaite and Shamarh Brooks need bat well on Day 5 on a deteriorating pitch. A draw would be a good result from here for the visitors while the English side will have to throw all that they have to level the series. For now Draw seems to be the most likely possibility in the game.
Joe Root would have definitely expected to find his side in a better condition than what he finds upon his return. The task before him is huge and he not only needs to avoid a back-to-back series defeat against the West Indies but also prevent the Caribbean side from winning the first Test series in England in 32 years! He will need to get the team selection right which they messed up in the first game.
Openers Rory Burns and Dominic Sibley will like to provide a start as they did in the second innings of the last game. With Root back, their strength in the middle order multiplies manifold and along with Zak Crawley, he will look to make big scores in the middle. The bonus for the English side is the long tail they have with Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler and Sam Curran bringing in immense batting talent to the side. All these players will look to convert their starts in the next game which they failed to do in the 1st Test.
Leaving out Stuart Broad was a big mistake for England in the last game and he is likely to open the bowling along with Chris Woakes with Anderson rested for the game. The proven pair would enjoy bowling in these conditions. Jofra Archer was inconsistent in the last game and shall be looking to improve upon this time around. Curran’s entry adds a new dimension to the bowling and along with Stokes and Dominic Bess he makes a good bowling attack for the team.
Joe Root (c), Rory Burns, Dominic Sibley, Zak Crawley, Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler (wk), Chris Wokes, Stuart Broad, Sam Curran, Jofra Archer, Dominic Bess
Joe Root, Ollie Pope, Stuart Broad, Zak Crawley, Jos Buttler, Sam Curran, Dom Bess, Ben Stokes, Dom Sibley, Rory Burns, CR Woakes
Jason Holder has enjoyed great success as skipper against England and with the series opener under his belt, he would aim to seal the series in this game. It will be a historical moment for the side and their first test series win against a major side away from home in the last 25 year. He would know that the English side would come hard at them in the game and want his players to be ready for the challenge.
The side will need openers Kraigg Brathwaite and John Campbell to give a good start as they did in the 1st innings. It is their No.3 and 4 which would be worrying the side as Shamarh Brooks and Shai Hope haven’t been able to convert their starts and they will need to do well in this game. The side displayed good depth in its batting in the last game with Roston Chase, Jermaine Blackwood and Shane Dowrich doing well with the bat. The conditions would be tougher in the next game and hence they will need to play cautiously.
With the ball, the fast bowling trio of Kemar Roach, Shannon Gabriel and skipper Holder were outstanding in the last game and they made life difficult for the English batsmen. They will look to carry on with the same form on a track that is expected to offer more bounce and lateral movement. Chase and Alzzari Joseph played their part well in the last game and the side would expect them to continue with the good show.
Jason Holder (c), Kraigg Brathwaite, John Campbell, Shai Hope, Roston Chase, Shamarah Brooks, Kemar Roach, Alzarri Joesph, Shannon Gabriel, Shane Dowrich (wk), Jermaine Blackwood
Kemar Roach, Kraigg Brathwaite, Jermaine Blackwood, Shane Dowrich, Jason Holder, John Campbell, Shannon Gabriel, Roston Chase, Shai Hope, Shamarh Brooks, Alzarri Joseph
|Hr||Temp||Rain||W. speed||W. direction||Clouds|
|00h||14||0 mm.||4.73 k/h||From: WNW||95%|
|03h||14||0 mm.||4.51 k/h||From: WNW||98%|
|06h||14||0 mm.||4.74 k/h||From: WNW||83%|
|09h||17||0 mm.||5.47 k/h||From: NW||65%|
|12h||20||0 mm.||4.96 k/h||From: NW||77%|
|15h||21||0 mm.||5.19 k/h||From: WNW||68%|
|18h||19||0 mm.||3.99 k/h||From: WNW||77%|
|21h||16||0 mm.||1.67 k/h||From: WNW||40%|
The weather would play cat and mouse during the course of five days starting July 16. The conditions would be overcast on Day 1 and there would be odd clouds from Day 2 onward. The wicket is known to be good for batting where the ball comes on to the bat nicely. Fast bowlers also do get their assistance with the new ball. The pitch is always known to be at its best on Day 1 and 2 with an average first innings score of 333 runs. The side batting first would be targeting a good score here in the 1st innings.
Old Trafford Manchester is one of the biggest grounds in England with deep boundaries at front and back and also around the square. It allows the batsmen to take lots of twos and threes. The pitch being lively offers good assistance to the fast bowlers on the first few days and slows down as the game progresses. Spinners have always enjoyed bowling on this surface on Day 4 and 5 where there is turn and bounce on offer.
Toss would be crucial in this game. In the last seven games at this venue, the side batting first has won all the game. There are seam and swing on this track but chasing a score on this pitch in the 4th innings in never easy as the pitch deteriorates here after Day 3. Both the captains would have this in their mind and hence we expect the side winning the toss to bat first in this game.
The stakes are high for England as they go into this game and having to save this series. Their batting looked rickety in the last game but with Root coming back the side would be confident about its prospects. The West Indies, on the other hand, would have their confidence sky-high after the win in the last game. They also have some issues with their middle order and would be tested on these conditions. England has a stronger side on paper and they would be hungry for success. While it is still extremely close between the two sides England would have a slight edge going into this contest.
England to win!