England has been the front-runners in the 2nd Test match against West Indies. A first innings score of 469 runs set by the England batters is considered a huge score on this pitch, given the overcast conditions on day 1.
The England team declared at 469-9 after playing 162 overs at a run-rate just under 3 (2.90 to be precise).
Dom Peter Sibley, who is new to international cricket, has now scored 2 tons in two consecutive series (133*vs South Africa and 120 vs. West Indies).
Sibley, despite his one-dimensional play, showed a lot of patience and temperament in this match. Anything outside off-stump was left alone by the English batter. He got to his century in 312 balls, one of the slowest centuries made by an English batsman.
It was difficult for the Warwickshire batsman to find scoring areas even after crossing the 100 runs milestone. He kept playing a lot of dot deliveries until he eventually got out for a slow 120 runs.
On the other hand, Ben Stokes was watchful and didn’t take too much pressure off his partner, also consuming a lot of deliveries. That said, he came in at a tough situation when England were 81-3. He batted with Sibley to provide stability to the inning.
Stokes, however, ratchet up the tempo to score quickly, as soon his team was deemed to be in a comfortable position, resorting to his natural game, he ended his inning with an impactful 176 runs.
His heroic performance in Ashes was an apt reminder of how he phases his batting. He always delivered runs when the chips are down and that’s the reason Michael Paul Vaughan OBE, the English cricket commentator and former cricketer rates Stokes as a big match player.
England’s approach was one of safety first. They apparently wanted to rule out any chance of a defeat by the Windies and to keep alive in the series. They were also aware that the Windies batters could not be taken for granted. Consequently, a massive target on the board for their bowlers would put them in pole position and push the Windies batsmen on the back foot.
In general, teams that bat for five sessions and score over 450 runs fancy their chances to win a test match unless, of course, there is a wash-out day.
England would have been spot-on with their scoring rate had it not been for the rain, which has torpedoed their plans.
Here the ability to read match situations comes into play.
The 1st session of day 2 is where the England batsmen could have scored a lot quicker. They should have been aware that the weather forecast of day 3 was not accommodative and therefore could have declared a lot earlier.
Anything around 400 runs was enough to declare. They could have given the 3rd session of day two entirely to Windies, though tactically a team declares its inning one or half an hour before the close of play when the fielding team is down and exhausted. To make them come out to bat in such a situation increases the chance of getting more wickets. A misstep by England who knows but could be argued a decisive step in determining the outcome of the match.
Windies were also sloppy in the field. There were few half chances created by England batters. Had they grabbed their chances, it could have been a completely different game altogether.
The ifs and buts will certainly continue; however, the Windies will have to bat out of their skin first to pass the follow-on target and then battened down to take the game away from England.
The fact is they’re better positioned on Day 4 — thanks to the rain.
England bowlers will be desperate to take 19 wickets to level this series. The only chance of England winning this test is imposing a follow-on.
England fans and pundits will be unhappy campers, given their team’s slow approach in the 1st inning, but would no doubt take comfort in the performances of Ben Stokes and Dom Sibley.
My prediction is that this match is heading for a draw unless England does something out of the ordinary.
The loss of day three due to the rain has certainly put a damper on the match and took away some of the excitement, but as said, cricket is a game of glorious uncertainties.
So, no choice but to wait until the fat lady sings.
Let’s see what happens in the coming days!
Readers Bureau, Contributor
Edited by Jesus Chan
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