England face tough task to level Test series against West Indies, admits Ben Stokes

Day 3 at Old Trafford was abandoned due to rain, leaving the hosts needing to take 19 wickets in two days

Ben Stokes top-scored for England in the first innings but rain has set back their hopes of winning the Test match. Reuters
Ben Stokes top-scored for England in the first innings but rain has set back their hopes of winning the Test match. Reuters

Ben Stokes has admitted England face a tough task to win the second Test against the West Indies and pull level in the three-match series after rain washed out the third day's play at Old Trafford on Saturday.

After persistent rain that kept the square fully covered throughout the day, the umpires decided to abandon play at 4.05pm local time (7.05pm UAE).

As the Test enters Day 4, the West Indies will resume on 32/1 in their first innings reply to England's 469/9 declared. It means England face a race against time to square the series.

"It's not ideal, turning up today with the weather around," Stokes, who top-scored with 176 on Friday, told Sky Sports on Saturday. "It's looking like we'll have to take 19 wickets in two days.

"But the wicket has offered something throughout the whole Test so far, so we just need to make sure we can expose that. And we know that once we get on a roll, anything is possible with the bowling attack we have."

England are looking to bounce back after a four-wicket loss in the first Test at Southampton last week in a campaign that marks international cricket's return from the coronavirus lockdown.

Stokes is a member of a revamped bowling unit, with England resting seamers James Anderson and Mark Wood.

They dramatically found themselves without Jofra Archer for this match when the express quick was omitted for a breach of the bio-secure regulations governing the series.

But the England and Wales Cricket Board announced Saturday that, following a disciplinary hearing, Archer would be available for the third Test starting on Friday.

Stokes found himself captaining England at Southampton after regular skipper Joe Root missed the first Test to attend the birth of his second child.

"It's never nice losing a Test match," said Stokes, with the West Indies bidding for their first series win in England for 32 years. "But I enjoyed the whole process of being captain for the five days."

Defeat continued a worrying trend for England, who have now lost the opening Test in eight of their last 10 series.

But, most recently, they came from 1-0 down in South Africa earlier this year to win a four-match series 3-1.

"I don't know really (why England are slow starters)," said Stokes.

"But we are a very good team at bouncing back from defeats in the first game of a series. We've proven that."

Published: July 18, 2020 08:01 PM

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