West Indies will resume Day 2 on 264/8 and will try to stretch their score as much as possible. Their hopes lie on Shimron Hetmyer, who has already demonstrated how unfazed he can be despite the fall of wickets at the other end.
On the other hand, the ball is still new, and James Anderson has already taken three wickets with the new ball. Neither Alzarri Joseph nor Shannon Gabriel has batting credentials to talk about.
There are no demons in the pitch, as Day 1 had demonstrated. Once the new is seen off, both survival and strokeplaying are easy. Before Hetmyer, debutant John Campbell demonstrated how easily the ball came on to the bat.
The England batsmen should not be under serious pressure once Rory Burns and Keaton Jennings see off the initial overs. England’s middle order consists of Jonny Bairstow, Joe Root, Ben Stokes, and Jos Buttler, who will be followed by Moeen Ali, Ben Foakes, and Sam Curran. Not only are all of them competent batsmen, every person on the list is a quick scorer.
The West Indians, thus, will have to launch an out-and-out attack from the start. Gabriel, Joseph, and Kemar Roach form a genuinely quick pace trio. They will be backed by Jason Holder, slightly slower but probably the craftiest of the lot. They may suffer from the lack of a specialist spinner, but Roston Chase has bowled long spells in the past.
On Day 1, West Indies had survived the initial threat of Anderson in the first session. Campbell had come out with some exquisite shots before a needless sweep undid him. Kraigg Brathwaite and Shai Hope had calmed the situation after that. West Indies were 128/1 an hour after lunch.
Then Ben Stokes took two wickets in five balls to bring the match to life. West Indies revived as both Hope and Chase got to their fifties, but none of them lasted long enough to make it count. Anderson, who had bowled to a probing line and length throughout two sessions, now got three wickets in a quick burst with the second new ball towards the end of the day.
Despite this deluge of wickets at Anderson’s end, Hetmyer refused to get buckled down. He had hit two enormous sixes earlier in the day; now he brought up his fifty, off just fifty-two balls.
Several West Indian batsmen had ground themselves in before throwing starts away. Five of them went past forty but nobody made it to sixty, which tells the story. The English bowlers, especially Anderson, kept testing them till they caved in.
England’s decisions to pick Curran ahead of Stuart Broad did not quite come off. Broad might have been a better wicket-taking option here with his extra pace. However, Curran’s superior batting may still justify his selection. The other selection, of Adil Rashid, has backfired till now. He did not have any impact whatsoever.
West Indies 264/8 (Hope 57, Chase 54, Hetmyer 56*; Anderson 4/33, Stokes 3/47) vs England.