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Thursday, 17 January, 2019

Stokes can shine under cloudy skies at Lord's

Windies look overpriced to nick first-innings lead

Ben Stokes drives to the Headingly boundary
1 of 1

Third Test
Sky Sports Cricket, 11am Thursday

After England's innings victory over the West Indies in the first Test at Edgbaston, few expected the third match of the series at Lord's to be anything other than a dead rubber.

However, the Windies' astonishing win at Headingley has set up a decider and, with an indifferent weather forecast prompting money for the draw, England are 1-3 for the series, having been 1-10 before a ball was bowled.

They were 1-8 to go 2-0 up in Leeds but the tourists produced a performance of real quality and composure to make a mockery of pre-match odds of 25-1.

They were in command of the Test until Moeen Ali (84) and Chris Woakes (61 not out) counter-attacked, allowing Joe Root to declare late on day four.

Root, along with most pundits and the in-play betting markets, expected the Windies to fold in pursuit of 322 on the final day but they ended up cruising to a five-wicket victory as Shai Hope scored his second century of the match.

The challenge for the West Indies is to ensure that the Headingley performance isn't just a glorious one-off.

They certainly won't be looking to their opponents for any tips on consistency - since 2015 England's home Test form reads (most recent first): LWWWLWLWWLDWWLWWLWLW.

Best bets
The West Indies' Headingley heroics overshadowed another superb performance from England all-rounder Ben Stokes, who scored 100 out of 258 in the first innings, made 58 second time around, and claimed two wickets, two catches and a run-out.

Stokes has batted beautifully in this summer's Tests, often coming in with England in trouble, and he should be backed to outscore number three Tom Westley in the first innings.

The Essex man is under pressure after scores of 25, 59, 29, nine, eight, three and eight in his first seven Test innings and facing a newish ball under cloudy skies at Lord's is a treacherous business for top-order batsmen.

Stokes, down at six, is one of England's most consistent runscorers and his first-innings efforts against South Africa and the Windies this summer have been 56, nought, 112, 58, ten and 100.

He made a pair in his first Test at Lord's against India in 2014 but has fonder memories of the ground more recently, scoring 92 and 101 in a thrilling win over New Zealand, and 87 against Australia in 2015.

The 7-1 that the left-hander top-scores in the first innings is also worth a bet.

England's batting in general looks far more solid on paper than it does out on the field and a small punt on the Windies claiming a first-innings lead could prove profitable.

The 9-2 chances conceded a first-innings lead of 346 in the first Test but they outscored their hosts 427-258 at Headingley, despite losing the toss.

In Leeds, Hope (147) and Kraigg Brathwaite (134) batted with the sort of application that England's batsmen have been lacking and New Zealand (2015), Australia (2015) and Pakistan (2016) have all been ahead after the first innings of recent Lord's Tests.

B Stokes to outscore T Westley in the first innings
4pts 5-6 Hills
B Stokes top England first-innings runscorer
1pt 7-1 bet365, Betway
West Indies to have a first-innings lead
1pt 9-2 general

England's spinners sealed the 211-win over South Africa in the first Lord's Test of the summer but seamers are more likely to be the match-winners given the overcast weather forecast.

Before beating the Proteas, England had won only one of their previous six matches in St John's Wood, despite the efforts of Root, whose 18 innings include a 180, a 190 and an unbeaten 200.

Team news
Toby Roland-Jones has earned a recall on his home ground in place of Woakes, who struggled with the ball at Headingley.

The Windies are unlikely to make changes to the batting unit although 20-year-old Shimron Hetmyer made a quickfire 128 against Leicestershire last weekend. Leg spinner Devendra Bishoo may make way for fast bowlers Miguel Cummins or Alzarri Joseph. 

Cloudy but dry on day one before heavy rain on the second afternoon. Better forecast for the last three days of the Test, barring light showers after tea on Sunday. Highs of 19C.

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Stokes has batted beautifully in this summer's Tests, often coming in with England in trouble
E.W. Terms
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