England is behind in the series and rightly so, as West Indies played with heart and conviction to win. All my readers will be very happy to note that the match went the way as I had written. The middle order played well and the pace quarter delivered.
Why West Indies' pace battery is effective
All the four bowlers bowl different types of deliveries. On top Shannon Gabriel is all pace with quick movement inwards which takes batsmen by surprise and that is why he gets batsmen bowled more than any bowler in the world.
Roach has remodeled himself like James Anderson. He has reduced his speed and doesn't give room to the batsman to work with. Roach induces movement on both sides so it is hard to pummel him for runs
Alzarri Joseph is quick and can get great bounce on the ball, so catches are induced when the batsman tries to drive, cut and pull.
Jason Holder is tall and his change of pace mixed with movement on both sides can cripple scoring. He also tends to pick up wickets regularly.
Why Windies' Middle Order is strong
Roston Chase has a strong defense and he can smother spin. He is, however, susceptible to moving ball at a height - something that Pat Cummins or Morne Morkel would deliver. England does not boast of such bowler.
Jermaine Blackwood And Shane Dowrich are excellent drivers and can nudge wicket to wicket deliveries. While facing bouncers, they duck. They can fall prey to heavy movement of Chris Woakes or Stuart Broad - both of them did not play the first Test.
Lastly, the imposing frame of Jason Holder, he has an average of 32.49 with three centuries and eight half centuries. His defense is very strong and he can attack when given the right opportunity. He has been the surprise package to strengthen West Indies as Mahendra Singh Dhoni did for India.
Wrong selection of bowlers by England was one of the factors for the loss.
Scouting the venue- Old Trafford
To square the three test series, Manchester is the best venue.
Since 2000, Old Trafford has been a fortress for England . In 17 Tests, they have won 14, drawn two and only lost one.
The loss was in the 2019 Ashes when Australia scored 497 and 186 and England replied by scoring 301 and 197.
The Old Trafford pitch is a speedster's delight. Bowlers get the movement both in air and off the pitch.
Broad and Anderson have always bagged wickets here. I don't envisage inclusion of a spinner in the England lineup here.
The toss will be very crucial here as the team which bats first , if they put 300+ score in first innings, they generally win. The second day is best for batting here.
So 80% probability of winning for the team that bats first at Old Trafford.
England will be bolstered by the return of Joe Root and Ollie Pope should give way. I had written that Joe Root will be missed and if he would have been there then probably England would have won the match at Rose Bowl.
England should drop Joe Denly and bring in Jonny Bairstow who was the architect of a win at Old Trafford in 2017 against South Africa.
Similarly Broad should come in place of Wood. I will also opt for Woakes in place of Dominic Bess. His movement will trouble Kraigg Brathwaite, Blackwood and Dowrich and his century against India speaks about his batting capabilities.
Rakheem Cornwall will still have to sit outside and wait for his chance in third test.
John Campbell should be replaced by Nkrumah Bonner, who is an exciting talent and can bowl leg spin. His stint in Caribbean Premier League showed promise. This will induce Shai Hope to open which he has done in ODIs
This match will also be a see-saw spectacle like the Southampton Test.
First day proceedings will write the course. If West Indies play first then they need to score 350+ to ensure victory, whereas England can score 300+ and finish the match on the fourth day.