By Ravendra Madholall
With 1182 runs chalked up in the opening test at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium, Antigua and Barbuda, resulting in a drawn matchup, both West Indies and England are no doubt anxious to come out victorious in the second and penultimate encounter from Wednesday at the Kensington Oval, Barbados.
Obviously, no resonance in the bowling aspect owing to England’s declaration too leaving many to ponder about the placid track.
England scored 311 and 349-6 declared while West Indies also showed lots of grit and character tallying up 375 and then closed off proceedings at 147-4.
Four centuries were registered, another manifestation of the flat-nature of the pitch as bowlers toiled for incredibly long periods.
Johnny Bairstow cracked 140 for the Englishmen first and then West Indian Nkrumah Bonner batted resiliently to make 123.
The second innings for England appeared simpler for batting with opener Zak Crawley and skipper Joe Root roared to 121 and 109 respectively.
No bowler was able to snatch a five-wicket haul, another firm indication that there was little devil in the pitch. Only fast-bowler and Trinidadian Jayden Seales picking up four wickets to be the most.
But at the Oval, there will be a great degree of optimism that a result is certain and a pitch highly expected to be responsive.
West Indies can bank heavily on their four-man pace attack to be more effective. Along with rookie Seales, experienced campaigners kemar Roach and Jason Holder would be asked to be more dominant while Alzarri Joseph could be successful as well. Lone spinner Versammy
Permaul went wicketless in Antigua and might be taken into consideration for that as this Oval pitch is characteristically known for true bounce and pace.
The batting again will hinge around Bonner, who seems to be the most confident batsman. His vital 38 not out in the second innings proved to be a man in sublime form too. Skipper Kraigg Braithwaite and John Campbell, the two openers, have shown some sort of patience while out-of-form middle-order batsmen Shemarh Brooks and Vice-captain Jermaine Blackwood will have to come good on this occasion, once finding themselves in the starting combination.
For England, they definitely have a psychological advantage over the hosts having ranked higher at number 4 on the International Cricket Council’s status while West Indies are currently languishing on 8.