West Indies took everyone, perhaps even themselves, by surprise when they managed to beat England at Headingley by 5 wickets. Riding on Shai Hope’s 118*, the visitors chased 322 against all odds to level the series 1-1. Nobody gave them a chance before the Tests began, and now all of a sudden the series is evenly poised, with the epic finale set to take place at Lord’s.
England had an awful start, making only 258 in the first innings, 100 of which came from Ben Stokes alone. The Windies grabbed the chance to capitalise on their failure as they reached 427 in their innings. The home side recovered to reply with a 490, setting up the thrilling chase. Ultimately, it was not enough to stop the Hope machine from carrying the visitors to a glorious victory.
The third Test promises to be another exciting clash as the Windies look to cause another upset, and the English to save themselves the humiliation of losing at home to a side that was not very long ago being panned for being the worst Test team in the last 50 years.
Joe Root (captain), Moeen Ali, James Anderson, Jonny Bairstow (wk), Stuart Broad, Alastair Cook, Mason Crane, Dawid Malan, Toby Roland-Jones, Ben Stokes, Mark Stoneman, Tom Westley, Chris Woakes.
Jason Holder (captain), Kraigg Brathwaite, Devendra Bishoo, Jermaine Blackwood, Roston Chase, Miguel Cummins, Shane Dowrich (wk), Shannon Gabriel, Shimron Hetmyer, Kyle Hope, Shai Hope, Alzarri Joseph, Kieran Powell, Raymon Reifer, Kemar Roach.
Where the Teams Stand
Joe Root equaled the record for the number of consecutive half centuries in Test cricket, scoring his 12th fifty to equal AB Devilliers. His consistency has been phenomenal, but England cannot afford to take it for granted. The second innings of the second Test saw six batsmen contribute with 50+ scores, which is the kind of effort that needs to be maintained coming into the third Test. However, Tom Westley has been simply atrocious at the one-down slot, piling pressure on the middle order thanks to his consistent failures. England played nine batsmen in the last match, but one might as well not count Westley given his string of single digit scores.
England’s bowling was excellent in the first Test, but met with stiff resistance in the second one. Hope and Brathwaite decoded the secret to playing pace on English pitches, rendering the bowling attack less potent than usual. Pace remains the key in the third Test, as evidenced by 11 wickets out of 14 being taken by fast bowlers. However, Moeen Ali proved his ability to decisively influence the match with the ball against South Africa and remains a vital cog in the bowling attack.
Despite the surprise in the last Test, England have the better team by a wide margin. It is easy to forget the way West Indies were decimated in the first Test, and it could easily turn out the same way if the Windies are not careful.
Hope became only the third West Indian to score a century in both innings since 1976, scoring 147 and 118 respectively. Brathwaite also scored 134 and 95, and could’ve easily been on the list too. Shane Dowrich scoring a century in the practice match against Leicestershire is also an encouraging sign. Jermaine Blackwood too has been contributing with the bat, scoring 49 and 41 in the last Test. Powell came good in the practice match as well, scoring 82. All great signs for the Windies, but they still need to be converted into results on the field once again come Thursday.
Some of the West Indian batsmen managed to counter the pace and swing of the English pacers. Kyle Hope and Roston Chase are not amongst those names. Both have struggled this entire series, including the practice match and are liabilities for the team with the bat. One saving grace for the latter is his ability to bowl, and he has been quite successful. An area they will want to improve on is their fielding. Several catches have gone down in the two Tests, and the West Indians simply cannot afford to let these chances go. The Windies have a deep batting lineup, all the way to number 9, and will need all nine to perform if they want to defeat England.
Shannon Gabriel and Kemar Roach were highly effective with the ball on day one of the second Test which gave the Windies an immediate upper hand. In the first Test, England put on a dominant display on day one and snatched all momentum away right from the start. It just goes to show how important it is to perform well in the first innings, regardless of whether one is batting or bowling. That being said, West Indies would prefer to bowl first if they win the toss. The batting came good last time, but bowling is a safer option, and it worked wonderfully in their previous encounter. No matter, one can expect the Windies to come hard at England after their resplendent victory.
England win the series 2-1.
Can England go 2-1 up in the series, or will the West Indies pull out another stunning upset? Let us know in the comments below.
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