Just when we thought Windies were down and out and no way were they capable of competing against a quality Test side like England, the men from the Caribbean pulled off a thumping victory to leave the cricketing fraternity stunned. After suffering a massive beating by an innings and 209 runs, to make a comeback in the second Test in such a manner showed the unpredictable factor of the Jason Holder-led side.
Defeating England in their own backyards in a format that they pride themselves about, make no mistake about that, is no joke. The courageous Shai Hope and Kraigg Brathwaite showed that there is still belief left in the country when it comes to quality batting in the longest format of the game. Whether or not they win the final Test at Lord’s, they have already achieved something that will be talked about for a number of years to come.
England’s skipper Joe Root received criticism for the early declaration. But a target of 322 batting last against Anderson and Broad, any captain would sense a victory and on most days, you will end up on the winning side. It’s anything but good for Root to learn the cruelty of the game in his early days as the captain.
So what can we expect from the series finale? One thing’s for sure that the home side will come out harder. But what about Windies? A second win on the trot and this one at the home of cricket to clinch the series, doesn’t it sound great? But that’s a distant thought and they’ll have to put in far more efforts to achieve this.
Hope and Brathwaite can’t guarantee runs every time and so, the others need to put their hands up. England made a great comeback in the second innings and so all the good work done in the first innings by Windies’ bowlers didn’t get talked about a lot. They did well only on one occasion from the four so far in the series. So, if they are to script history at the Mecca of cricket, it’s the bowlers who need to come good.
For England though, the odds lie in their favor still. Playing at home, knowing the conditions well, you’ve got to go with the home side. Apart from the lackluster performance of the batsmen in the first innings, they were well within the grasp of the match. A few dropped catches hurt them badly. But at the end, you’ve got to admire the 2 Windies’ batsmen and accept that they deserved the victory.
Alastair Cook, after the brilliant double hundred in the first Test, suffered a couple of failures but he is someone on whom the team can always bank upon. Joe Root scored half-centuries in both innings and Ben Stokes had a century and a half-century to his credit. The others stood up in the second innings and the batting lineup is too good to fail a lot.
The bowlers had a nightmare in the last game. After doing so well in the first Test, they were manhandled by Hope and Brathwaite. To their credit, they didn’t bowl badly but a number of dropped catches didn’t help their cause. They might go with a bit of grass at Lord’s and having James Anderson and Stuart Broad amongst the ranks, they can make it difficult for the opposition.
The batting so far has been all about two batsmen – Shai Hope and Kraigg Brathwaite. Twin centuries from Hope and a century and a fifty from Brathwaite laid the foundation for the victory. But apart from that, there weren’t too many contributions, perhaps Jermaine Blackwood got away but none from anyone else. If the dream of conquering Lord’s is to come true, they need plenty more from others.
Kemar Roach and Shannon Gabriel bowled magnificently in the first innings and bagged 4 wickets apiece but weren’t as effective in the next innings. The English batsmen played all others pretty well and the weakness of Windies’ bowling was exposed. The batsmen might have delivered in the last game but the defining parts need to come from the bowlers now.
Players to watch out for
The opening batsman had played one of the finest knocks you would ever see on a cricket field in the first Test. But the next game showed him the nature of the game. Scores of 11 and 23 and a few dropped catches in the slip cordon, fingers were raised on the former captain. Careers in England have finished in the past even due to slight mishaps. But he is a champion player and would be itching to make a comeback and that’s why Cook is the player to look out for.
For a number of years, Windies cricket was producing batsmen like Kieron Pollard, Andre Russell who could tonk the ball out of the park. The team struggled massively in whites due to lack of quality batsmen. Now they have hope with Shai Hope. Those were 2 of the best knocks by any Windies’ batsmen ever in the last game. A lot will rest on Hope’s shoulders again at Lord’s.
Alastair Cook, Mark Stoneman, Tom Westley, Joe Root (c), Dawid Malan, Ben Stokes, Jonny Bairstow (wk), Moeen Ali, Chris Woakes, James Anderson, Stuart Broad
Kraigg Brathwaite, Kieran Powell, Shai Hope, Kyle Hope, Roston Chase, Shane Dowrich (wk), Jermaine Blackwood, Jason Holder (c), Devendra Bishoo, Shannon Gabriel, Kemar Roach
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