Having convincing levelled the series last time out, England will expect to justify
2/3* favouritism to win the third Test and therefore secure an overall 2-1 victory in what’s been a keenly-contested series with the West Indies.
The third and final Test begins on Friday at Old Trafford and, after what’s gone before, both sides are gearing up for a big finale with the battle of the Wisden Trophy evenly poised at 1-1.
That’s as long as the Manchester weather doesn’t ruin it.
Windies Exceeding Expectations
Before a ball was bowled in the series, England were tipped to dominate against the Windies but it’s been a much closer series than many predicted with the tourists, who are
7/1 to win the third Test, impressing so far.
After Phil Simmons’ side won the first Test by four wickets in Southampton, England bounced back – thanks largely to more heroics from Ben Stokes – with a 113-run win and the home side should wrestle back control with what they hope will be a convincing success this weekend.
England struggled to get going at the Ageas Bowl in the first behind-closed-doors Test as the strange atmosphere seemed to take them by surprise. In contrast, the West Indies thrived and deservedly took an early lead with Jermaine Blackwood and Roston Chase starring.
However, the home side battled back well at Old Trafford last week, defying the weather along the way, and now they will hope for more of the same as the sides line-up in Manchester once again.
Rain Shouldn’t Worry Stokes-Inspired England
The forecast is for some rain over the course of the five days, particularly on Saturday, but England coped well with that in the second Test when losing a whole day’s play, and, with Stokes clearly in fine form, they are likely to get the job done here.
Stokes was virtually unplayable last week, following up his patient 176 first innings score with a superb blast of 78 not out from 57 balls to tee up the victory. He also took three important wickets over the course of the piece and, if the all-rounder’s in the same mood, the Windies will surely struggle to contain him.
Stokes is on offer at
5/1 to be man of the match again and it’s a tasty price for a man right at the top of his game.
With Dom Sibley also in good nick and the big-hitting Jos Buttler ready to fire, England have the weaponry to get a big first innings score if they win the toss and bat first as they attempt to assume early control.
That’s not to say the visitors are not dangerous themselves as they’ve already proven this summer, Shamarh Brooks and Kraigg Braithwaite having proven more than capable in English conditions with bat in hand.
Brooks, in particular, comes into this final match on the back of half-centuries in each innings from the second Test so is displaying a fine degree of consistency. Braithwaite too is a contender to be the Windies’ top performer at Old Trafford after notable recent knocks of 65 and 75.
Having shocked England into a reaction, the Windies will want to show their Southampton form once again and, with the added jeopardy of the uncertain weather, it’s all set up to be a close affair, but one England should edge.
*All odds correct at time of writing.