Pitch report: Arnos Vale, St Vincent


From the scant evidence available, one imagines batting first would be a good idea, to take advantage of what little pace and bounce there is early on, before the deck flattens out, goes dry, and picks up some turn.

<b>Established</b>: 1972<br><b>Capacity</b>: 18 000<br><b>Floodlights</b>: No<br><b>Ends</b>: Airport End, Bequia End<br><b>Home Team</b>: Winward Islands<br><b>Test History</b>: 2 Tests (1 away win, 1 draw)<br><b>Last two tosses</b>: Batting first: 1 (1 Win), Fielding first (1 Draw)

<b>Overview</b><br>Arnos Vale in Kingstown, St Vincent and the Grenadines, is the home ground of the Winward Islands team, and is not one often seen on the Test circuit. In fact, there has not been one here this decade, and only two prior to the 2014 comeback.

The venue was rebuilt ahead of the World Cup in the Caribbean in 2007, and hosted four matches in that tournament, but the completion was a tight squeeze. These days, it's used more often for football matches.

The stadium saw its first international match in 1981, an ODI between the Windies and England, and the first Test was played against Sri Lanka in 1997. That game ended in a draw. The first T20 at the venue was in 2013, against Pakistan.

<b>Last Time Out</b><br>The most recent Test at the venue was in 2009, between the Windies and Bangladesh, where the visitors ran out victors by 95 runs late on day five.

The hosts were fielding seven debutants as their players were involved in strike action at the time, thus presenting the Tigers with a golden opportunity. This was the Asian side's maiden Test win over the West Indies.

The Tigers won the toss and opted to bat, and scored 238 all out. Tino Best and Kemar Roach were the picks of the bowlers for the Windies, with Roach one of the players on debut.

Another debutant, Omar Phillips, then scored a near-century in the Windies' first innings, as they reached 307 all out. Unlike the Windies, the spinners did the job for the visitors, with Rubel Hossain and Mahmudullah taking three apiece.

Tamim Iqbal then put the game out of reach, it turned out, as he scored a century. While Darren Sammy took five wickets for the hosts, Tamim's 128, and Junaid Siddique's 78, saw the Tigers score 345, leaving the Windies needing 277 to win.

David Bernard was the only batsman able to score anything decent in the chase though, making 52 while no-one else passed 20. They were all out for 181, as Mahmudullah took a five-fer and Shakib bagged three.

<b>They Said</b><br>Windies captain in 2009, Floyd Reifer, on the slow, flat track: "We would want some more grass on the wicket, and some bounce."

Centurion Tamim Iqbal on the good batting surface: "It's very flat, if you don't want to get out, no one will get you out. I was going good but I played a bad shot to get out."

<b>Happy Hunting Ground</b><br>Given there have been two whole Tests here, it's not shocking that Tamim Iqbal is the highest run getter at this ground. His century in 2009 is one of two tons scored here, the other by a certain Brian Charles Lara.

For the Windies, none of their top order batsmen in this squad were part of the 2009 game, but Kemar Roach was, and he made nine runs in total. On the plus side for him, he took six wickets then too.

As for the Tigers, they are without some of the bowlers that did well in 2009, as Shakib is suspended, but they do have Mahmudullah, who took eight wickets last time, and is the ground's leading wicket-taker, alongside Muttiah Muralitharan.

<b>Weather Forecast</b><br>According to the internet, the weather for the match will be hot and humid, with thunderstorm predicted for the first three days, but only late in the day. Weather shouldn't be too much of an issue, aside from keeping hydrated.

<b>Conclusion</b><br>From the scant evidence available, one imagines batting first would be a good idea, to take advantage of what little pace and bounce there is early on, before the deck flattens out, goes dry, and picks up some turn. Conversely, the Windies pacemen will enjoy an early bowl as the going will get tougher as the game progresses.

Still, it seems that the Windies will have a better time of it compared to 2009, as they have a far superior batting line up, and while they might be without Sunil Narine, their other spinners have been in the wickets for the past year.