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Buoyant West Indies eye England Test series win

West Indies go into Thursday's third and deciding Test at Lord's with the chance to complete a dramatic turnaround.

Published: 07th September 2017 09:19 AM  |   Last Updated: 07th September 2017 09:23 AM   |  A+A-

The West Indies dominated Test cricket for two decades but their decline has been precipitous. | AP

By AFP

LONDON: West Indies go into Thursday's third and deciding Test at Lord's with the chance to complete a dramatic turnaround and win their first series in England in almost 30 years.

The Caribbean side last triumphed in England in 1988 when a team boasting a clutch of all-time greats including Gordon Greenidge, Viv Richards, Malcolm Marshall and Curtly Ambrose romped to a 4-0 win.

The West Indies dominated Test cricket for two decades but their decline has been precipitous and they are currently languishing at eighth in the world rankings, with just Bangladesh and Zimbabwe below them.

Having dusted down the "obituaries" after the series opener at Edgbaston -- when the visitors slumped to a defeat by an innings and 209 runs -- few pundits gave Jason Holder's novice West Indies side any chance of a revival in Leeds.

Yet despite being set more than 300 to win in the fourth innings following a declaration by England captain Joe Root, the tourists showed true grit to win the second Test by five wickets.

Shai Hope became the first batsman in history to score hundreds in both innings of a match at Headingley, putting his side in a strong position with 147 before following up his maiden Test century with a match-clinching 118 not out in the second innings.

West Indies skipper Holder is urging his side to keep calm as they chase an unlikely victory.

"We are obviously confident coming off the last game at Headingley but I told the guys 'that's gone'," he said. 

"The first game, pretty much everybody wrote us off. Our heads were a bit down after how we got defeated in the first Test match. 

"To pick ourselves back up and come back and respond how we did at Headingley was remarkable. It's obviously given us some new life."

"There's a lot to play for, and our guys are really up for it," he added.

Anderson eyes 500 club

England took the risk of dropping in-form seamer Toby Roland-Jones, whose three Tests this season have yielded 14 wickets, for the Headingley match, bringing in Chris Woakes for his first Test of the home campaign after injury, seemingly to get some overs under his belt ahead of the upcoming Ashes tour of Australia.

But England have recalled Roland-Jones on his Middlesex home ground and dropped Woakes in the only change to their side.

"Home conditions, he (Roland-Jones) obviously knows the surfaces and is bowling very well at the moment," Root told reporters at Lord's on Wednesday after announcing his team.

"It's obviously very difficult to leave somebody like Chris out, he's been a consistent performer in Test cricket for England. 

"But this is a team I think is going to win this week," star batsman Root added.

England still have doubts about their problem top-order batting positions, with number three Tom Westley under most scrutiny after a run of single-figure scores.

"That extra pressure will find out a bit more about people's character and things like that so it should be an exciting week," said England spearhead James Anderson.

Having gone wicketless on the last day in Leeds, Anderson arrives at Lord's still three away from becoming the first England bowler to take 500 Test wickets.

"To be honest, I do try to put it to the back of my mind," Anderson said.

"We desperately need to win this Test match to win the series so I'm going to be focused completely on doing my job for the team when we get out there."

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