Drawing first blood is huge plus for young Windies squad

first_img… Roach’s form key to series winBy Clifton RossWEST Indies re-entered the world of live sports during the pandemic and struck gold, as their young side dominated England in their backyard, heading into the second Test with the psychological edge. With much to prove heading into the series, Windies quicks, led by Shannon Gabriel who returned to action with nine wickets, roughed up the English batsmen.The home team were rattled out twice as the conditions at Southampton favoured the fiery Caribbean pacers; who kept England to an under-350 score in both innings.Although Jermaine Blackwood hit a match-winning 95 in Windies’ second innings, it was Gabriel who set the tone with 4-62. Jos Buttler and stand-in skipper Ben Stokes showed glimpses of form amidst a dismal outing from a relatively young English batting line-up.Skipper Jason Holder ended with seven wickets after bagging a 6-for in his first bowling outing, duly adding ideal support to Gabriel.England’s approach without Joe Root leading the troops seemed a bit timid, given their reputation as a powerhouse at home. Root’s inclusion for the next match could possibly alter how things resonate batting-wise, as his world-class talents and leadership will influence how the other batsmen approach the next encounter.England’s fast bowlers weren’t that shabby either as Jofra Archer, veteran James Anderson, Mark Wood and Stokes, collectively gave good accounts of themselves by taking 11 Windies wickets in the first innings, before running into Blackwood. One major concern is their main strike-speedster Kemar Roach, who went wicket-less for 91 runs despite his teammates relishing in the luxury of the fast-bowler-friendly conditions.His returns were uncharacteristic, especially for a bowler of his ferocity, coupled with his decent record against England over the years.Roach will definitely bounce back as the series progresses, but his wicket-taking prowess could have handed the Windies an even more emphatic victory had it kicked in during the first Test.Also, one Windies seamer who could likely shine as things progress is Alzzari Joseph. Like Roach he too had a horrid first innings but showed even more maturity and calmness a second time around when he returned with 2-45 from 18 overs. ‘Old Trafford’ in Manchester is the next venue of battle between these two storied rivals and, looking at West Indies’ 4-pronged pace attack’s current intent to ensure that 20 wickets fall, England enter the second match under immense pressure having folded twice.It is possible that the home team will make amends for the batting woes in a few days’ time and the inclusion of Root impacting the youngsters in Zak Crawley, Rory Burns and others might help level the series.If Gabriel hits his straps again in Manchester then it could be a certain wrap for England – especially if the old Roach returns to support Holder and the others who seem to be well-adapted mentally and technically – as Windies look to make history during the pandemic.last_img