West Indies head into tomorrow’s second Test against England in Grenada buoyed by a final day batting performance in the first Test in Antigua that saw them salvage an honourable draw and end just 88 runs short of an unlikely win.
They were inspired by the heroic efforts of rising allrounder Jason Holder who scored his maiden Test century and impressed all and sundry at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium.
While Holder impressed in the second innings, Jamaican right-hander Jermaine Blackwood was equally pleasing with his maiden ton in the first innings.
However, the rest of the batting left a lot to be desired with experienced middle-order batsman Marlon Samuels once again not showing the maturity of someone in the side for more than a decade. Opener Kraigg Brathwaite will also be looking for a productive match with the bat after a double failure.
Opener Devon Smith plays his first Test in his homeland and has added incentive to do well after a failure in the first innings in Antigua and gifting his wicket away in the second innings following a hard-fought half-century.
Leg-spinner Devendra Bishoo should return to the playing 11 following an absence of more than two years, after the selectors axed an ineffective Sulieman Benn from the first Test squad. It is highly unlikely the West Indies will go into the match with a four-prong pace attack, meaning no debut for Carlos Brathwaite nor a place for the surprisingly recalled Shannon Gabriel.
For England while batsman Ian Bell struck his 22nd Test century and Gary Ballance also came back into form with a patient hundred in the second innings, there are still batting concerns in their camp.
Skipper Alastair Cook will again go into the match under immense pressure to score runs, with his last century for England coming nearly two years ago.
Jonathan Trott should get another go to open the innings, while allrounder Moeen Ali should come back into the side as the number one spinner and will strengthen the batting.
West Indies: Denesh Ramdin (captain, wicketkeeper), Kraigg Brathwaite (vice-captain), Devendra Bishoo, Jermaine Blackwood, Carlos Brathwaite, Darren Bravo, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Shannon Gabriel, Jason Holder, Shai Hope, Kemar Roach, Marlon Samuels, Devon Smith, Jerome Taylor.
England: Alastair Cook, James Anderson, Jonny Bairstow, Gary Ballance, Ian Bell, Stuart Broad, Jos Buttler, Chris Jordan, Adam Lyth, Liam Plunkett Adil Rashid, Joe Root, Ben Stokes, James Tredwell, Jonathan Trott, Mark Wood, Moeen Ali
On-field umpires: Steve Davis, Bruce Oxenford
Third umpire: Billy Bowden
Match referee: Andy Pycroft
(Photograph from windiescricket.com)