England and West Indies head into the 3rd Test of the #raisethebatseries with the scores level at 1-1. West Indies won the opening Test at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton this month after edging the hosts in a tightly fought contest in the final day where they were able to chase down 200 with four wickets in hand.
The second Test at Old Trafford, however, belonged to the Three Lions, who bounced back with a comfortable 113-run victory. Dominic Sibley and Ben Stokes set the game up with centuries in the first innings, but the latter was the main catalyst for the win.
Stokes showed patience to register a 356 ball 176 in the opening innings and he was at his vintage best in the second as he smashed 78 runs off just 57 balls to setup a target of 311 for the Windies in the final day, which were unable to chase.
The momentum is definitely in England’s favour ahead of the third Test at the Old Trafford Cricket Ground, but the unpredictable nature of the Windies will make it an interesting contest. Rain washed out Day 3 of the second Test and it could play spoilsport once more with the Met department predicting rainy conditions in four of the five days.
Three things to watch out for:
The tourists opted to bowl first in a good looking batting pitch at Old Trafford last week and that backfired as England accumulated 469 runs on the board. With just a three-day gap between the tests, the conditions could remain quite similar and the team which bats first could have the ascendancy, considering a steady downpour of rain is predicted between Day 2 and Day 5. Both sides are expected to lineup with unchanged batting orders while Windies could stick with the same bowling combination despite niggles for Shannon Gabriel and Alzarri Joseph.
England’s bowling options:
James Anderson, Mark Wood and Jofra Archer, who was suspended due to breaking COVID-19 protocols are back in the squad for the test. Joe Root will definitely want the senior figure of Anderson back in the mix while Archer may also make the 11 after his fiery spell in the second innings of the first test. Chris Woakes and Sam Curran may probably make way for the duo. It remains to be seen whether Stuart Broad keeps his place after he was surprisingly dropped by standing captain Ben Stokes in the first Test for the pace of Wood.
With the series on the line, both teams will most likely want to bat first, particularly with only 10 percent of rain predicted in the opening day. The hosts batted for time in the first innings of the previous Test with Dominic Sibley registering the slowest century (312 balls) by any English player since 2000. However, with plenty of inclement weather, they may have to go with a more aggressive approach this time around. Windies would retain the Wisden Trophy with a draw following their 2-1 series win in the Caribbean last year.
Stats from ESPN Cricinfo