Spirited West Indies topple England to kick-start the test series
Cricket resumed in an emphatic way after remaining suspended for more than 100 days due to the Covid-19 pandemic. It returned with the purest form of game, as England vs West Indies Test Series 2020 kick-started in the Southampton. After waiting eagerly for a long time, the fans finally got to see the ‘game of gentlemen’, albeit with a new set of rules.
Played behind the closed doors, the test match attracted a large number of viewers, waiting in awe to watch the riveting contest between the bat and ball. It all started with England winning the toss and choosing to bat first. The selection did raise some eye brows as Stuart Broad, a spearhead of English bowling attack was left out. On the other hand, West Indies had few headaches with regards to the selection and their only test was to play competitive cricket throughout the five days.
England looked comfortable even without Broad and Root, although the question marks remained on the performance of the top order. The 4th ranked team didn’t start well with the bat, as Jason Holder and Shanon Gabriel made early inroads to peg England back. With 5 wickets down for just 87 runs, Stokes and Butler managed to stick a sizeable partnership to take England out of the hot waters. However, both the batsmen fell in succession to leave the hosts reeling at 7 for 157.
The tail managed to wag a little, as Dom Bess and Jimmy Anderson added 30 runs for the last wicket to cross the 200 mark. West Indies looked set to take a lead while chasing 204 in a better batting condition. They started off well and were placed nicely at 140-2 before a mini collapse reminded of their vulnerability, as England seized a bit of control leaving West Indies 5 down for 186. This is when Chase and Blackwood stitched a fine partnership to take control. The inning finally came to an end with Windies taking a lead of 114 runs.
England started their second essay with sizeable back to back partnerships. At 249-3, England looked good to set a target in excess of 250 runs. However, Alzarri Joseph and Shanon Gabriel had other plans, as the English line-up folded like a pack of cards. From 249-3 to 310-10, England had almost handed the opening match of England vs West Indies Test Series 2020 to the spirited men from Caribbean.
Known for their unpredictable batting collapse, Windies seemed to have woken up the ghosts by tottering at the beginning of the chase. At 27-3, it seemed that all the hard work was undone by the men from Caribbean in a short passage of time. This is when Blackwood struck gold and played a defining knock of 95, with vital contributions coming from Chase and Dowrich. As Blackwood gifted his wicket on the brink of the victory, Holder and Campbell finished the job with little fuss.
West Indies defeated England by 4 wickets, with Shanon Gabriel claiming the Man of the Match award for his terrific performance with the ball. The Windies have taken the lead and the ball is in the court of the hosts, with two games remaining in the series. Whatever the result may be, we certainly have a couple of fascinating contests on our table.