West Indies’ battle to recover from the lows of 2nd Test Match
England to win!
If cricket needed the perfect comeback in the times of a pandemic, the series has already provided it. West Indies set the tone for the 3-match series with a historic win at Southampton. The English side made a strong comeback in the last game where they outplayed the visitors and dominated the game throughout. With 1-1 going into the series decider it will be interesting to see which side is able to hold on to its nerves and perform well in the series decider.
West Indies have had their problems with the bat especially the form of their lower order and shall look to get over it before the next game. They have a historic series win in the horizon to drive them in this game. Holder is likely to inspire his side to put their best foot forward in this game. Joe Root having got hold of his opponent's nerves wouldn’t’ like to let it loose. They have an excellent record at this venue and the English skipper would like to keep that record intact.
You could mistake England’s position at the end of Day 1 of the 3rd Test Match to that of the 2nd Match at the same venue. The script played out quite similarly to the last game as West Indies once again caught their opponents by the throat and loosened the grip on the game. Jason Holder would be terribly upset having allowed England to end on 258 for 4 after having reduced them to 122 for 4. Ollie Pope with his unbeaten 91 and Jos Buttler’s 58 has shifted the momentum in England’s side. For the visitors, Kemar Roach was the star of the show with his two wickets but Jason Holder and Shannon Gabriel just failed to pick wickets despite bowling in the right areas. West Indies’ body language in the final session of play was more of desperation as they saw the horrors of the last game repeat once again.
Going into Day 2, Pope and Buttler would look to solidify the position and try to push the score further. It is the first session that would be crucial with predicted overcast conditions where the ball is likely to do a bit and heavy showers is on the cards. With Chris Woakes and Dominic Bess to follow the side doesn’t have as much depth in its batting as they had in the last game. For the West Indies the trio of Roach, Gabriel and Holder who will need to inflict maximum damage in the first session. The second new ball is just three overs old and they need to make maximum use of it. The first session is likely to set the tone for the rest of the game and also the series. England, for now, is clearly ahead of the visitors.
Jason Holder would be livid with where the match stands at stumps on Day 2. They are struggling at the moment ending the days play at 137 for 6 still 232 runs behind England’s first innings total of 369. The visitors have themselves to blame having allowed the English side to add 89 for the last two after having started the day brilliantly picking overnight batsmen Ollie Pope and Jos Buttler quickly before Dominic Bess and Stuart Broad put up a fighting 76 run stand for the 9th wicket. With the bat, it was again a poor start at the top from Kraigg Brathwaite who went out early. John Campbell and Shai Hope also did poorly with the bat. For England, their time-tested duo of James Anderson and Stuart Broad came to the party and rattled the West Indies top order.
Jason Holder and Shane Dowrich need to bat sensibly on Day 3 with little batting to follow and the given the kind of batting collapses we have already seen from the side. With rains predicted for Day 3 Broad and Anderson would look to pick early wickets in the day. They will enjoy these conditions as the ball is doing a bit in the air. Having Jofra Archer and Chris Woakes in the attack the side will definitely count on its chances. West Indies still need 33 runs to avoid the follow-on and with a good amount of play still left in the game, the visitors would like the Weather Gods to come to their rescue. The English side has the game firmly under its control going into Day 3.
Day 3 is known to be the moving day of a Test Match and boy didn’t this Test Match get a move. At Stumps West Indies are struggling at 10 for 2 with 389 runs more to win in the 4th innings. England dominated the day picking up the 4 remaining wickets in West Indies innings for addition of 60 runs with Stuart Broad running through West Indies batting line-up. With a 114 run stand between Rory Burns and Dominic Sibley and a quick-fire innings from skipper Joe Root, England declared at 226 for 2 setting the visitors a target of 399 to win. The declaration was bold as the hosts have factored rains that are predicted for the next two days.
Shai Hope and Kraigg Brathwaite overnight batsmen at the crease will need to approach the game with a positive frame of mind. They need to go after chasing the total and put English bowlers under pressure. Shamarh Brooks, Roston Chase, Jermaine Blackwood, Shane Dowrich and Jason Holder can make contributions with the bat but they have failed on four occasions to build partnerships in the series. Broad who is looking in great rhythm will look to start Day 4 with early wickets and has a legend like James Anderson to give him company. Jofra Archer and Chris Woakes will enjoy the conditions with the skies overcast. England definitely has the game in their bag if they bowl according to the plans. As for the West Indies they have to trust themselves and also pray for heavy rains to make play impossible!
England’s worst fears came to haunt them on Day 4 of the series decider as the day’s play was washed away due to regular spells of rain. Though the ground staff did their best to keep the square dry and get rid of the water in the outfield, they had to surrender to the Weather Gods. Jason Holder and his side would have thanked their stars! Joe Root was bold with his declaration on Day 3 setting West Indies a target of 399 to win the game. The visitors were struggling at 10 for 2 having lost opener John Campbell and night watchman Kemar Roach. With Shai Hope and Kraigg Braithwaite at the crease the side has two of its most technically accomplished batsmen at the crease going into the last day of the game.
West Indies can still hope for a lucky escape as there are predictions for rains on Day 5. With two wickets down and a complete day to survive this batting order doesn’t inspire much confidence. Apart from Braithwaite and Hope the side will want the likes of Shamarh Brooks, Roston Chase, Jermaine Blackwood and Jason Holder to hold their ground. It doesn’t look like a full day’s play is on the cards on Day 5 and they have to be smart enough in their approach. Root would be looking for a 40-50 over window to win this game and the series. His main arsenal Stuart Broad and James Anderson are in their best form and having Jofra Archer on this kind of a wicket is great strength. It is only weather that stands between England and a much deserved victory. Fans would be hoping to see clearer skies on Day 5 and not see a tame draw in this historic Test Series.
Joe Root would have breathed a sigh of relief after the win as rains almost denied them a win in the last game. He would be happy with the way his side fought back to level the series. Having already won the previous game at the same venue Root and his men would be confident going into this game. They have a bowling attack that looks in good shape at the moment.
Rory Burns’ form is bit of concern at the top but his fellow opener Dominic Sibley would be confident after that great hundred in the last game. A good start from them would put England ahead in the game. Joe Root, Zak Crawley and Ben Stokes form a very strong middle order with the kind of form that Stokes has so far shown in this series. With Sam Curran, Jos Buttler and Ollie Pope down the order they have a very strong line-up going into this series decider.
Though Jofra Archer would be available for selection in this game England aren’t likely to change their bowling combination that did well in the last game. Stuart Broad and Chris Waokes will look to do well with the new ball and pick early wickets. Stokes and Sam Curran are also riding good form at the moment and they will create problems for the West Indies. Dominic Bess would play his role as the lone spinner for the side in this game.
Joe Root (c), Rory Burns, Dominic Sibley, Zak Crawley, Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler (wk), Ollie Pope, Stuart Broad, Sam Curran, Chris Woakes, Dominic Bess
Joe Root, Jofra Archer, Ollie Pope, Stuart Broad, Jos Buttler, Dom Bess, James Anderson, Ben Stokes, Dom Sibley, Rory Burns, CR Woakes
From the highs of the win in the 1st Test Match Jason Holder’s side rock bottomed in the last game losing it by 113 runs. They were completely outplayed by the dominating English side as they allowed the game to get away from their hands by batting insensibly and not being able to keep up the pressure with the ball. With a historic series win on the cards Holder would want his team to put up a good show in the next game and avoid the mistakes of the 2nd Test Match.
Kraigg Brathwaite and John Campbell have got their starts in the series but haven’t converted them into big scores. This is something they will need to do in the next game. But where the side is losing out is the inconsistency in the middle order and they will need the trio of Shai Hope, Shamarh Brooks and Roston Chase to put up those big scores. They will need to avoid lower order collapses and pin their hopes on Jermaine Blackwood, Jason Holder and Shane Dowrich to make bigger contributions with the bat.
Their bowling attack lacked the killer instinct in the last game as against what we had seen from them in the 1st Test Match. Kemar Roach and Shannon Gabriel will need to strike early given the form English batsmen are in at the moment. Holder along with Alzzari Joseph will have to bowl tighter lines and create more opportunities. Roston Chase surprised everyone with his bowling in the last game and look to continue with the 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, Rahkeem Cornwall, Shai Hope, Shamarh Brooks
|Hr||Temp||Rain||W. speed||W. direction||Clouds|
|00h||15||0 mm.||1.95 k/h||From: WNW||92%|
|03h||14||0 mm.||1.38 k/h||From: NW||75%|
|06h||14||0 mm.||1.68 k/h||From: W||67%|
|09h||16||0 mm.||2.25 k/h||From: W||85%|
|12h||19||0 mm.||2.2 k/h||From: WSW||92%|
|15h||22||0 mm.||2.01 k/h||From: SW||84%|
|18h||21||0.15 mm.||2.75 k/h||From: WSW||92%|
|21h||18||0.14 mm.||3.57 k/h||From: SW||100%|
Weather nearly played a spoiler in the 2nd Test Match at the same venue and the predictions starting July 24 doesn’t look good either. Rain is on the cards for all five days of the game. The pitch would be a difficult one to bat on as we had seen in the last game where new batsmen found it tough to adjust to the pace and bounce on the surface. The side that bats first would be happy to score in access of around the 335 run 1st innings average score here.
Batsmen who get their eyes in have done well at this venue. But the track at Old Trafford, Manchester always creates doubts in the minds of the batsmen at the start. The large size doesn’t allow too many boundary scoring opportunities but there are lots of twos and threes on offer here. Fast bowlers enjoy the conditions especially when it is overcast and it is one of the best venues in England for the spinners.
The last eight games at this venue have gone in favor of the sides that have batted first on this surface and hence toss would be very crucial for this game. The track at Old Trafford is known to break up as the game progresses when batting becomes a big challenge. Hence the captains aren’t likely to have much of hesitation in their minds on batting first on this surface.
All said and done the Test Series is well set up going into this last game. The West Indies surprised everyone winning the first game. But there are problems for the side that needs to be addressed and biggest of them all is the batting collapses they have suffered in three out of their four innings. England on the other hand covered all the bases in the last game and played to their potential both with the bat and the ball. They have a much stronger batting line-up and a bowling attack that would relish these conditions. This would make them favorites going into this game.
England to win!