England vs West Indies 2nd Test Preview: Root, Broad to return as Holder & Co look to repeat Southampton heroics
The pitch in Manchester will have more pace and bounce, apt for a tearaway like Mark Wood but Stuart Broad's return to the England XI is likely along with skipper Joe Root who will walk back in place of Joe Denly.
Venue - Emirates Old Trafford, Manchester
Start time - 10:00 AM GMT/11:00 AM LOCAL
Head to Head record in Tests - England: 49 West Indies: 58 Drawn: 51
Weather - Cloudy, 14-19°C, Precipitation: 20%, Humidity: 79%, Wind: 18 km/h
Kudos for a successful 1st Test in Covid times
Before a word is said or written about the second Test between England and West Indies, it is imperative to congratulate CWI and the West Indies team to board the flight to the UK which was in the eye of the pandemic at the time, and do all of it without any complaints.
ECB is also deserving of the applause for becoming the medium and the catalyst to facilitate the return of international cricket in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic. Most of all, the credit goes to the players to not let suspension of cricket affect their game and serve fans all over the world piping hot cricket of the highest order.
Rain to stay away for most of the Test match
There would be several tired bodies in both the camps, with a gap of just three days between the two Test matches. The two teams will also need to shift bases from Southampton to Manchester - the place where West Indies camped upon their arrival in the UK and would certainly be aware of the pace and bounce of the surface.
Rain does not seem to be getting off cricket's back. Although the forecast is nowhere as bad as it was on the first two days in Southampton, there is a possibility of showers on Saturday, the third day of the match.
Apart from that, some cloudy conditions are expected in the latter half of the match. Otherwise, the conditions would be good for cricket.
England's frequent batting collapses a concern
England have their batsmen to blame for their 4-wicket loss in the opening Test of the series. This is, in fact, the eighth time that they have lost the first Test in their last 11 series. However, the team will have hope of bouncing back as they did after being 0-1 down in their last series against South Africa.
Dominic Sibley was the only England batsman who could not reach double figures among England's top eight in the first innings, but none of their batsmen could convert the starts into a half-century. Likewise, the team lost 4 wickets within an hour in the last session of day 4 thus losing control of the match.
England's priority would be to avoid batting collapses that have become a regular feature for the team, especially in their home conditions.
Root in for Denly
Joe Denly, who scored 18 and 29 in the last Test and has seen his average drop below 30, is set to make way for returning skipper Joe Root, who is coming back after the birth of his second child.
There could have been a case for him to retain his place but Zak Crawley top scoring with a classy 76 run-knock in England's 2nd innings has cemented his place for the time being. With age on his side, Crawley will certainly pip Denly for the No. 4 slot and can turn out to be a good No. 3 option for England in the long run.
Jos Buttler also has pressure mounting on him with the wicketkeeper-batsman managing only one half-century in his last 21 Test innings.
Stuart Broad too good to sit out
Mark Wood bowled his heart out on the largely unresponsive surface of the Ageas Bowl but failed to back it up with numbers in the wickets column.
Much has been said about Stuart Board's absence at Southampton which broke his 51 Test streak w.r.t home appearances. Despite conditions being more conducive for Wood's style of bowling at Manchester, Broad is all set to join his bowling partner James Anderson in the playing XI.
West Indies to field an unchanged XI
West Indies had Kraigg Brathwaite absorb the pressure in the first inning while Jermaine Blackwood exceeded expectations with his composure in the second innings. All-rounder Roston Chase was crucial in stabilizing things for the side with scores 47 and 37 in the match.
While the WI pacers, particularly Shannon Gabriel, would have loved to have a couple more days to recover, with Rahkeem Cornwall and Chemar Holder as the only exciting options available on the bench, West Indies are likely to walk out on Old Trafford with an unchanged XI.
Here's a look at the probable playing XI of both teams:
England - Rory Burns, Dominic Sibley, Joe Root, Zak Crawley, Ben Stokes(c), Ollie Pope, Jos Buttler(wk), Dom Bess, Jofra Archer, Stuart Broad, James Anderson
West Indies - John Campbell, Kraigg Brathwaite, Shamarh Brooks, Shai Hope, Roston Chase, Jermaine Blackwood, Shane Dowrich(wk), Jason Holder(c), Alzarri Joseph, Kemar Roach, Shannon Gabriel
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