After winning their fifth Test out of their last 10 matches against England since 2015. West Indies will be eyeing to win their first Test series on English soil since 1988, when the Three Lions were whitewashed 0-4.
England have now lost the first Test of the series (two or more matches series) for the fifth consecutive time since 2019. Moreover, the Three Lions have now lost the first Test for the eighth time out of their last 10 multi-match series.
West Indies surprised everybody with their performance in the first Test of the ongoing three matches series. England did try their best, but the confidence, composure and fighting spirit of the Windies helped them in taking a crucial lead in the series.
There were doubts over the batting quality of the Windies, however, the batsman performed brilliantly and helped their side in winning the first Test by four wickets. Jermaine Blackwood was the hero of the chase as he scored 95 runs while chasing the target of 200 runs.
The Windies bowlers also put up a brilliant show as Jason Holder and Shannon Gabriel picked 16 out of 20 England wickets. The three Lions, however, did miss Joe Root in the middle over and Stuart Broad in the bowling unit. These two are most probably going to be back in the team for the second Test. So, we can hope for another exciting contest starting tomorrow.
Possible starting XI of England:
Rory Burns, Dominic Sibley, Zak Crawley, Joe Root, Ben Stokes (C), Ollie Pope, Jos Buttler (WK), Dom Bess, James Anderson, Jofra Archer, Mark Wood/Stuart Broad
Possible starting XI of West Indies:
Kraigg Brathwaite, John Campbell, Shai Hope, Shamarh Brooks, Roston Chase, Jermaine Blackwood, Shane Dowrich (WK), Jason Holder (C), Alzarri Joseph, Kemar Roach, Shannon Gabriel.
Joe Root vs Shannon Gabriel
The England Test captain missed the first match due to the birth of his second child, however, he is expected to come into the side for the second match. Joe Root will bat at number four and Zak Crawley will be moved to third spot while Joe Denly will sit out for this crucial encounter.
Root has scored 803 runs with an average of 57.35 in his nine matches against West Indies. The England skipper has also scored three centuries and four half-centuries with highest score being 182* runs against the Windies.
Shannon Gabriel, on the other hand, won the Player of the Match award for picking nine wickets in the first Test. The Windies pacer was lethal as he removed the first three batsmen of England in the first innings and then ran the riot through the middle and bottom order in the second innings.
Root will try to be careful and his battle against Gabriel depends on how long the openers stay on the crease. If the English skipper comes to the pitch early in the game, then there are chances that the Windies pacer will trouble him and might take his wicket as well.
Ben Stokes vs Jason Holder
This battle is going to be the most interesting one as both Ben Stokes and Jason Holder have been going against each other since the beginning of the first Test. The Windies captain got the Englishman’s wicket in both the innings while Stokes removed Holder in the first innings.
Stokes missed his half-centuries in both the innings as he scored 43 and 46 runs respectively. In the second innings, it was the Englishman’s wicket that started the fall of wickets in quick succession for England. The all-rounder is expected to perform much better in the second Test as he won’t have the burden of captaining the side.
Holder, on the other hand, led his side from the front as he picked six wickets in the first innings. The Windies skipper, however, has to work on his batting because his team needs a few extra runs from the bottom-order to put extra pressure on the home side.
These two will go against each other once again and we can expect a high intensity battle. Both the players are passionate and will give their every bit to help their side in winning the second match.
The pitch of Manchester is good for batting, but the pacers will get some help from the wicket. The last three matches on this pitch have been won by the team batting first. So, it will be crucial to put on some runs in the first innings by either of the teams.
The addition of Joe Root and Stuart Broad will strengthen the squad of England while West Indies will play their same line-up. The performance of Root and Broad can create differences in this match. Also, it will be interesting to see how Stokes performs without the burden of captaincy.
West Indies will try to pick early wickets, but once again their batting line-up has to give solid performance to help their side in winning the second match and series.
After considering everything, Cricwizz believes that England will get the better of the Windies in this fixture and level the series 1-1.
Cricwizz Prediction - Win for England