“Moisture” influenced West Indies to bowl first, says Brathwaite

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By Akeem Greene

For the second successive Test, West Indies have won the toss and opted to bowl, which have raised some eyebrows since they played an extra spinner this time.

It would seem a decision to regret as England have reached yet another commanding position in the deciding Test.

Since Old Trafford held its first Test in 1884, no team has ever won after choosing to bowl first, and the team that batted first in the last four Tests at the ground have gone on to win.

Vice-captain Kraigg Brathwaite defended the decision to bowl first and indicated at the post-play brief, their plan was to extract the moisture in the wicket and put pressure on England since they are short of one specialist batsman.

“Moisture in the wicket we found as a team and we just wanted to utilise it. They got a good partnership, but I don’t think we are out of it, once we come out tomorrow and control the scoring rate and build pressure we can get some wickets in the morning.”

He added, “We saw moisture and we thought that we could get wickets early was our plan. I would not say it was because of the weather and stuff.”

At 122-4, it seemed West Indies made the perfect call with England playing a specialist batsman short due to Ben Stokes inability to bowl owing to quad injury. However, a counter-attacking 136-run* partnership between Ollie Pope and Jos Buttler put the brakes on tourists’ inroads.

England ended the day 258-4 with the next batsman being the bowling all-rounder Chris Woakes, and Braithwaite indicated, it is crucial West Indies contain the batsmen and exploit the second new ball in a bid to restrict England.

Brathwaite also indicated that Shannon Gabriel is “good”, and all he needed was “a stretch.”  Like the second Test where he went off the field, Gabriel pulled up on Friday in his fourth over. He returned later to bowl 14 overs, but is still wicketless.

Off-spinner Rahkeem Cornwall was included ahead of seamer Alzarri Joseph, and though he got an appreciable amount of turn and took a superb catch at slip, his 21 overs went wicketless at a run rate of 3.38 – most expensive on the day.

Brathwaite, commenting on Cornwall, said: “He was unfortunate not to get a wicket, but I thought he had a decent start.”

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