West Indies vs England 3rd Test Preview and Prediction: Will Either Side Seal Series Win?

Johnny Bairstow in action for England vs West Indies.

It has been, for the most part, a confidence-building series for both the West Indies and England when their batting units were both in desperate need of just that. But all that confidence may well wash away if either side falls at the final hurdle here. Who will come out on top in this series decider in Grenada? Read on for our full West Indies vs England 3rd Test preview and prediction:

West Indies vs England 3rd Test Preview and Prediction

Series So Far

It has been a tough series for the bowlers so far with the pitches in Antigua and Barbados offering very little for the seamers or the spinners. England have had the better of it, having come closest to victory in both matches, but on both occasions they have been held at bay by some spirited resistance from their hosts. In Antigua that was led by Nkrumah Bonner, who scored a century in the second innings to give the West Indies a lead and then remained unbeaten in the fourth to deny England.
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The second Test belonged to Kraigg Brathwaite. He is far from the most fluent player the West Indies have ever produced, but he may very well be amongst the most redoubtable. He dug in for 489 balls in his first dig, for a return of 160 runs, in reply to England’s 507-9d. Then in the fourth innings, when the West Indies were threatening to give way, he saw out another 184 balls to guide his side to a draw, accompanied ably by Joshua da Silva at the death.

Expected Teams

The West Indies will most likely be unchanged in this third and final match. That will see Brathwaite open the batting with John Campbell. Campbell is a fine stroke player, but his Test career remains stuck in the doldrums and he desperately needs a big score here. Shamarh Brooks too has made an indifferent return to the side at number three, with his best effort so far 39 in Barbados. Bonner has been rather more impressive, though he will be disappointed with his effort in Antigua.

Jermaine Blackwood added a second century to his name last-time out in Bridgetown and will have a key role to play again at number five. Jason Holder has performed better with ball than bat, but is still of vital importance to his side. Joshua da Silva has been solid enough, but will be looking for a big score. There has been little on offer for seamers – Alzarri Joseph, Kemar Roach and Jayden Seales -though they have toiled hard. More might be hoped of Veerasammy Permaul who has been out-bowled by his opposite number.
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England will also surely stick with their opening combination of Zak Crawley and Alex Lees, though Lees has hardly nailed down his place long-term. Joe Root has continued his personally excellent form despite the move to number three, with centuries in both matches so far. Dan Lawrence has also performed well at number four, though he will have been disappointed to miss out on a century in Barbados. Johnny Bairstow has also been in very fine touch and Ben Stokes looks to be back in form.

Ben Foakes has been tidy behind the stumps and is surely the long-term option for England now. The make-up of England’s attack remains uncertain. Chris Woakes will surely be dropped, despite what he offers with the bat, with Ollie Robinson in line to return. Matt Fisher will also likely be replaced by Craig Overton, but Saqib Mahmood should keep his place. However, with another slow track expected, England may instead play two spinners in the impressive Jack Leach and possible debutant Matt Parkinson.

Key Man

Brathwaite delivered a captain’s performance in Barbados. But the West Indies cannot continue to rely so heavily on their captain (where have we heard that one before?) to carry the load. Fortunately, they have another very fine batsman in Blackwood. The 30-year-old has not performed as consistently as he would have liked over the course of his Test career, but he showed in Barbados what he can do.  More of the same would be a significant boost for his side in Grenada.
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There have been some individual performers for England over the course of this series for England, but the player who has perhaps bolstered his reputation the most is Leach. The off-spinner has not managed to bowl England to victory, but he has consistently threatened and picked up some very important wickets. If he can continue to bowl this well he may not only help England score a big win here, but also provide England with the answer to a long-term problem.

Prediction

As in the ongoing Australian tour of Pakistan, if the pitch in this third match does not offer significantly more than the first two, the likeliest result here is a draw. But England have looked the likelier victors in both matches so far and that has been a fair reflection of their performances. They also have more options with the ball than they have done previously. In truth, there is not a great deal between the two sides, but if either side is to snatch a victory, expect it to be England.

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