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ENG v WI, 3rd Test Preview: West Indies have the edge as hosts under pressure to save series

West Indies are chasing history and have momentum behind them after Leeds Test.

Shai Hope Windies
Shai Hope of the West Indies. (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

It has been a while since West Indies has won a Test series in England. Viv Richards’ team had last beaten England in June 1988. The great Sachin Tendulkar, who had a 24-year career for India, hadn’t debuted for India then. Current England captain Joe Root wasn’t even born when Richards’ troops walked away with the series winning by a 4-0 margin. It has been quite a while.

Shai Hope lifted the visiting team by producing a historic performance at Headingley last week. It took West Indies 17 years to win a 5-day game on English soil and now they have a prospect of winning the series within touching distance. Kraigg Brathwaite’s contribution in the historic game cannot be diminished. Both batsmen have inspired the rest of the lot to produce their best performance at the Lord’s.

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Joe Root might still be pondering over the declaration in Leeds. In the context of the game, it was a great declaration but he would be disappointed by the way his bowlers bowled. England will have to wipe off the memory of the second Test from their systems and concentrate on the imminent job in their hands.

Toss: Windies won the toss and elected to bat first

Playing XI:

England: Alastair Cook, Mark Stoneman, Tom Westley, Joe Root(c), Dawid Malan, Ben Stokes, Jonny Bairstow(w), Moeen Ali, Toby Roland-Jones, Stuart Broad, James Anderson

Windies: Kraigg Brathwaite, Kieran Powell, Kyle Hope, Shai Hope, Roston Chase, Jermaine Blackwood, Shane Dowrich(w), Jason Holder(c), Kemar Roach, Devendra Bishoo, Shannon Gabriel

Focus will be on:

Tom Westley

Just four Tests old, Westley is lucky to find himself in the squad for the final Test. In all probability, he will be batting at No. 3 in the all-important decider. The 28-year old has spurned the opportunity of making the most of a fairly average bowling attack, making just 19 runs in three innings in the series so far.

His permanence in the squad will depend on his performance in London. Westley has looked chary at the start of his innings and has been unfortunate to not get away to a start. With a heavy leg side game, Westley needs to be careful while facing the faster men from the Caribbean, who will move the ball away from the right-hander. An Ashes berth will be on the line for the right-hander, who recently spoke about being close to realizing his dream. Westley cannot afford to squander this opportunity as he will be pushed into the wilderness if he fails in this game.

Shai Hope

The challenge that lies ahead of Hope is to bring consistency to his game. He, at only 23, has already played the best Test of his life. If he wants to be remembered as a batsman, he will have to do this time and again. Hope was slick in operation in either innings and his calmness during the chase surprised many.

He might be wet behind the ears as far as Test cricket is concerned, having played just 12 Tests in his career; the right-hander knows how to remain composed during tense situations. His stint in the summers of 2011 and 2012, where he played two seasons in England for a school in West Sussex, might have helped him in countering the conditions on this tour. The 23-year old knows that he will be in the spotlight but must not get bogged down by the occasion.

Playing Combinations

England

The home side won’t make any wholesale changes to their team after the mauling at Leeds. They might be close to zero in on Alistair Cook’s partner for the strenuous summer in Australia later after Stoneman showed character to score a hard working second innings half century when the chips were down. Westley, skipper Root and Dawid Malan will constitute the middle order which is thin on experience. Things get balanced with the presence of Bairstow, Stokes and Moeen Ali in the lower middle order. England might think about playing Roland-Jones in Chris Woakes’ place, who had an average game with the ball. Veteran seamers – Anderson and Broad – will lead the attack with the ball.

West Indies

After scripting a memorable win in the last game, the Jason Holder-led side will go unchanged for the final game. Shai Hope’s brother, Kyle, struggled in the game, scoring just 3 runs in the match. West Indies might not want to tinker with the winning combination and Kyle, in all probability, will bat at No. 3. Brathwaite and Powell will open the innings. In Shai Hope, Roston Chase and Blackwood; West Indies has a lot of ammunition in their middle order. Shane Dowrich and Jason Holder are decent batsmen and can contribute at No. 7 and 8. Devendra Bishoo will be the lone spinner in the side and will be helped by Chase in various stages. Shanon Gabriel and Kemar Roach were responsible to jolt the top order of England in the first essay of the last Test, will again look to inflict damage with the new cherry against a shaky batting line-up of the home side.

Stat Attack

3 – Wickets required by James Anderson to complete 500 Test scalps.

29 – years since the West Indies won a Test series in England.

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