West Indies Seeks Upper Hand In Third Test — Preview

Got to have kaya now

Got to have kaya now

Got to have kaya now

For the rain is falling

Kaya — Bob Marley 

West Indies won the first Test, credit to brilliant performances by Shannon Gabriel, Jermaine Blackwood, and skipper Jason Holder.

However, in the second Test, Ben Stokes led an outstanding comeback against the Windies to give England a comfortable 113-run victory. Coincidentally, both the matches went to the last day of the last session, courtesy of rain along with some competitive cricket by both teams.

England will take on West Indies this Friday in the final Test of the first series decider post the interruption in international cricket due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The series is currently equally poised at 1-1 after some exciting cricket in the UK.

 The Windies will be desperate to win this series as they haven’t won a series in England since 1988.

Windies will be disappointed by their performances in the second Test as they could have at least drawn the match given the situation they were in on day-3.

With an entire day washed out due to rain, they had more than enough time to rest and reflect. Therefore, they should have stopped England from scoring quick runs in the second innings.

Nevertheless, the past is history. Windies must move on and focus on the upcoming Test match. 

West Indies team head Coach Phil Simmons has expressed concerns about the team’s batting unit.

Simmons is particularly bothered by the poor form of batsmen Shai Hope and John Campbell.

John Campbell has scored a mere 52 runs in four innings of the last two Tests while Shai Hope’s bat has yielded only 57 runs in these four innings.

Shai Hope, given his talent and the quality of his batsmanship in the shorter form of the game, has been a letdown thus far in Test —  a concern for the team for the past several months.

Given the current situation, both of these batsmen could be dropped from the team in the last match of the series.

“It’s something that we have to look at over the next couple days and decide which direction we go then,” Simmons told members of the media, via a Zoom press conference.

“They haven’t fired, so we have to consider it (changes) over the next couple days,” he added.

At the same time, the bowlers looked lost, tired, and listless in the second Test. Shannon Gabriel and Kemar Roach are the team’s impactful bowlers, but now it seems like either of the two or even both could be left out for the 3rd Test.

Windies must explore other options like young Chemar Holder and Raymon Reifer to see whether they could be a pain reliever for the team.

Although the Windies bench is not as strong as England’s, they ought to make maximum use of the resources at their disposal.

On the other hand, England is on a roll courtesy of ‘The Strokes of Ben.’ Stokes may well be described as the comeback kid after his less than stellar performance in the T20 World Cup Final four years ago when Windies Carlos Brathwaite smashed four sixes from his bowling to win the World Cup.

In the last two years, however, he has transformed himself into one of the World’s leading all-rounder in cricket.

He can make impossible things possible, be it the ODI World Cup final, the Ashes series 2019, or even the recent match where he scored a quick-fire 78 to ensure that Windies lose the game instead of a draw.

He is currently undergoing a purple patch, and cricket greats will say that one must utilize this period to the fullest when one is in the form of his or her life.

His form is also expected to continue in the series decider. Although his workload could be a concern, being an all-rounder, he could easily play the match as a batsman alone.

Along with Stokes, there are other players too who can be match-winners in the team. Stuart Broad is coming off a good form, as well as Chirs Woakes and Sam Curran.

James Anderson will make his return to the team after a good rest – not playing in the 2nd Test.

Jofra Archer, being available for selection in the 3rd Test, sums up a good selection headache for skipper Joe Root.

Who goes out and comes in is going to be a tough choice for Root as England have played with two different bowling line-up in 2 different matches.

Additionally, the rotation policy also comes into play for England as the Pakistan series is lined-up soon after the Windies departs.

The only concern for England is the batting performances of Jos Buttler. Undoubtedly, Buttler is a big match-winner in white-ball cricket but has failed to fire thus far in the Test format.

He will be looking to get some runs under his belt to stay in the team.

One never knows. This could even be the last game for him because Ben Foakes and Jonny Bairstow are also in the wings waiting.

Pitch and Conditions

The decider will take place at the same venue, Old Trafford. The pitch at the Old Trafford is perhaps the quickest among all other pitches in the UK. As a result, this will almost certainly be a match whose outcome will be determined by the pacers’ performance.

The weather will be cloudy with on and off rains during the entire match. Hopefully, it should not affect the result of the game.

The wicket is also said to favor spinners on the final day of the Test.

And this is where the team’s trump-card and x-factor player could make a difference.

It promises to be an exciting end to a series much-welcomed by cricket fans around the world.

England is the favorite win this match, but you never know with a team like the unpredictable West Indies.

All eyes will be at Old Trafford when the final Test begins on 24th July.

We wait with bated breath for the fat lady to sing!

Wake up and turn I loose

Wake up and turn I loose

Wake up and turn I loose

For the rain is falling

Kaya — Bob Marley 

Readers Bureau, Contributor

Edited by Jesus Chan

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