England vs West Indies 2020, 3rd Test Preview:
England 1, West Indies 1. Two Tests in, this is the scoreline of the first international series post the COVID-19 break. Perhaps fittingly, this might well be the scoreline at the end of the third Test in Manchester, starting Friday (July 24), too. Reason: rain is expected to play a big part in the deciding Test at the Old Trafford.
West Indies won the first Test in Southampton by four wickets, chasing 200 in a tightly fought final day. England bounced back in the second game, winning by 113 runs on the back of Ben Stokes' heroics.
England will believe the first Test was an abberation and they've got the momentum going into the third game. Their batting floundered in Southampton, with batsmen showing patchy form. It was perhaps understandable given the extensive break they were coming from.
The mistakes seem to be corrected in Manchester, with Stokes leading the way. He scored contrasting knocks of 176 and 78, while Dom Sibley made a patient and crucial 120 at the top of the innings to set the base. Joe Root contributed only in 20s in each innings, but his presence will make England feel stronger.
West Indies have a knack of being unpredictable. They were top class in Southampton but couldn't maintain the same consistency - with bat or ball - in the next game. They might have even missed a trick in opting to bowl first on a flat track. It's the visitors who have plenty to ponder going into the last match. They have history to make too: West Indies last won in England in 1988.
WHAT: England vs West Indies 3rd Test
WHEN: July 24-28, 10am GMT, 3.30pm IST
WHERE: Old Trafford, Manchester
TELECAST: Sony Network
LIVE STREAMING: Sony Liv
England Team News
England are unlikely to make changes to their batting department, although Jos Buttler hasn't been in form. There could be a few changes in the bowling unit though. They've got Jofra Archer back in the mix after the pacer was left out in the second Test due to the bio-secure breach. Picking three pacers from a pool of James Anderson, Stuart Broad, Jofra Archer, Chris Woakes, Sam Curran and Mark Wood will be their toughest challenge.
Possible Playing XI:
Rory Burns, Dominic Sibley, Zak Crawley, Joe Root(c), Ben Stokes, Ollie Pope, Jos Buttler(w), Dominic Bess, Jofra Archer, Stuart Broad, James Anderson
West Indies Team News
"John Campbell and Shai Hope's form is something that we have to discuss over the next couple of days, and make a decision as to which direction we go there. They haven't fired, so we've got to take that into consideration."
West Indies coach Phil Simmons had this to say when asked about the form of Hope and Campbell, which means there could be a few changes in the batting department. Campbell has made only 52 runs across four innings while Hope has 57 to his name. The bowling line-up, though, is unlikely to be changed.
Possible Playing XI:
Kraigg Brathwaite, John Campbell, Shai Hope/Joshua Da Silva, Shamarh Brooks, Roston Chase, Jermaine Blackwood, Shane Dowrich(w), Jason Holder(c), Alzarri Joseph, Kemar Roach, Shannon Gabriel
Head-to- Head Record – Last 5 Matches
West Indies 3, England 2
To watch out for
Ben Stokes: The captain of England in the first Test, Stokes showed he could play according to situation in the next. His 176 in the first innings took 356 balls, while his 78* in the second came off just 57 balls. He picked up three wickets to go with it as well.
England coach Chris Silverwood said they could consider resting Stokes but that's unlikely to happen with the series in the line. Stokes will once again be the man to watch out for.
"Yes, I'm concerned. He's gone four innings without a score, in contrast to how he played over the last five, six months in the other formats. I am concerned about his form, and we'll be sitting down and chatting about that over the next couple of days" - West Indies coach Simmons on Hope's form.
"We've got to put out the strongest attack out that's available to us. It's very difficult to keep everybody happy all the time. But if you do things for the right reason, I think there's an understanding there. It's about being very honest and open with what we are trying to do and why" - England coach Silverwood on picking the right bowling unit.