Day Three of the third West Indies vs England Test gets underway with the tourists in prime position to win at least some measure of consolation in a series that has been an overall disappointment. After two comfortable test wins for the Windies, the home side – stripped of suspended captain Jason Holder – have struggled with the bat and at times in the field, and Joe Root’s side are pushing home their advantage.
After skittling the hosts for 154 – a 123-run lead for England after the first innings – England start the day at 19-0 in the second-innings and with an advantage of 142. Opening batsmen Keaton Jennings and Rory Burns will be looking to extend that lead further before the middle-order, which added most of the runs in the first innings, comes in. In order to overturn England’s advantage and at least force a draw, the Windies will need to find some direction on this potentially pivotal third day.
First Wicket Crucial For Both Sides
Any captain in the position Kraigg Braithwaite finds himself in right now – behind on runs and with ten batsmen to knock over before they can even consider closing the gap – will have one thought in mind above all right now. The home side need to take the first wicket, and they need to take it within the first few overs of the day’s play if possible. Limit England to a low score in this innings, and it could still be a 3-0 whitewash. Give the openers a chance to get their feet under the table, and the backup captain could find himself with a loss on his record.
The first thing to consider is which of the England batsmen may be vulnerable and the answer seems obvious. Jennings, an honest opener with shades of fellow Lancastrian Mike Atherton to his game, once again lacked Atherton’s poise in the first innings, getting out cheaply to a ball delivered at full length. It’s fair to say Kemar Roach and Shannon Gabriel will have had the message driven home overnight; exploit Jennings’ tendency to drive at any delivery, remove him and then keep the pressure on. Unibet agree that the 26-year-old is the weak link of this partnership, and have him 10/13 to be the first wicket to fall. Even at odds-on, it’s decent value.
Speculate That England Will Accumulate
Even if England do lose a batsman early on the third day, a Windies side clearly missing Holder’s tactical acumen will have a huge job on their hands to limit the total they must chase. In the first innings here, both Jennings and Burns were kept to low scores, but it was the fifth-wicket partnership of Jos Buttler and Ben Stokes that really built their side’s solid 277 all-out. The last four wickets fell for just seven runs added, so it’s clear where the hosts need to improve.
Stokes’ 79 runs, the top score in the first innings, were vital to the direction this test has taken. While the openers have the shortest odds to top-score in this innings, we feel that Betway might have underestimated the chance that England could accumulate runs at five and six again. Stokes is 5/1 to grab the most runs in this go-round, but we’d look at Buttler, 4/1 and batting confidently (and, importantly, batting lower in the order than Stokes), to add to his first-innings 67 with a substantial and potentially match-winning knock.
Paul To Repeat First-Innings Heroics?
While Kemar Roach and Alzarri Joseph bring the pace and have delivered the bulk of the wickets for their side, it was notable in the first innings that England’s openers seemed able to deal with their deliveries, and thus it fell to the all-rounder Keemo Paul to remove both men. As is often the case, the slight difference in pace and length from a relief bowler was enough of a disturbance to draw mistakes from the men at the crease, and so it might be an idea for Braithwaite to turn to Paul’s fast-medium bowling earlier on Day Three. This might be very good news for bettors, with Paul rated 4/1 by Coral to take the first wicket of the innings.
Indeed, when choosing our Bet of the Day, we’d look at Jennings’ occasional carelessness, add Paul’s change of pace, and see the price that Coral have set as being the best value on offer from the final test’s hinge day. Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it – George Santayana may not have had Keaton Jennings and his tendency to play ill-advised drives in mind when he said that. It is, however, worth keeping in mind when it comes to betting on this intriguing third day of the third test.
Bets of the Day:
Keemo Paul to take first wicket (4/1, Coral); Keaton Jennings to be first batsman out (10/13, Unibet); Jos Buttler to be top scorer in 2nd innings (4/1, Betway)