Nine out of ten times you would believe that the West Indies will crumble on Day 5 of the first Test at Southampton. It is not the West Indies of the past, for which chasing any totals on surfaces did not matter. The current West Indies side has talent, but not conviction. For which, apart from the die-hard fans of Caribbean cricket, critics thought of a forgone conclusion.
To the astonishment of many, this team displayed enough composure on a tricky deck, which had uneven bounce and against some hostile pace bowling, West Indies prevailed in a tricky chase. They lost wickets early but did not implode.
Jermaine Blackwood had been the hero of the day, whose authority on the back-foot, resolve, and lack of tentativeness outside the offstump helped West Indies to arrest a collapse. He traveled through the choppy waters and stabilized the innings – West Indies fetched a famous victory on the land, once upon a time, which was their happy hunting ground.
The West Indies stamped their authority on Day 2, when play resumed after the washout of Day 1. Jason Holder exploited the seaming conditions better while the batters took a handy lead. Shannon Gabriel did the damage in the second and West Indies were left to chase only 200 on Day 5.
A West Indian victory marked the return of Test cricket in style after the break of COVID-19 pandemic.
One would expect the West Indies to maintain their brilliance, while England are left to rue their missed opportunities.