After the first one-day international (ODI) being washed out, India came out hard and won the second game at the Port of Spain by 105 runs on Sunday to take a 1-0 lead in the five-match series. With three more games to go, the onus of making a comeback in the series is now on West Indies. India dominated the game in all three departments and played extremely well to gain a healthy lead. India’s batting once again clicked, their top-order scored majority of the runs with Ajinkya Rahane getting a scintillating ton. West Indies, on the other hand, leaked too many runs with the ball after which they failed to chase down such a big target. Shai Hope and Roston Chase looked comfortable out in the middle and played well.
West Indies had a target of 311 to be chased against the formidable bowling attack of India. They got off to a shaky start, losing a couple of wickets inside three overs. Bhuvneshwar Kumar did a magnificent job in scalping the key wickets of Kieran Powell and Jason Mohammed for ducks and putting West Indies on the back foot right from the start. Shai Hope, on the other hand, looked determined at the other end. He took his time to get his eyes in and then played the pumped Indian attack with immense confidence. It was the sixth over of the innings, when Hope broke the shackles and got a move on.
Shai Hope collected three doubles off the first four deliveries from Umesh Yadav and then clipped a delivery towards square leg for his first boundary. He played out the good deliveries cautiously and didn’t take any chances against them. Ravichandran Ashwin has been a force to reckon with in contemporary cricket, he has ample of variations and well capable of running through a batting line-up on his day. Hope played his first over cautiously and didn’t take any risk whatsoever. The first ball of Ashwin’s second over was a carrom ball, which Hope failed to pick and MS Dhoni was quick to get the bails off in a flash. Hope fumbled but was quick enough to ground his back foot, which eventually saved him.
Indian bowlers were building pressure but Hope was sensibly rotating the strike. He had to pick a bowler in order to break the shackles. Hope was smart enough to take advantage of debutant Kuldeep Yadav, who was playing his first ODI game. Hope attacked Kuldeep from the very first over. He defended the first delivery, which was tossed up and then smashed the second delivery over mid-wicket for a much-needed boundary. Kuldeep was immediately under pressure as this was his first over in One-Day Internationals (ODIs). Hope collected a double off the next delivery. He then garnered another boundary off the fifth ball and milked 10 runs from this over to get a push-on. One shouldn’t forget, Kuldeep is a left-arm chinaman bowler, which is an extremely rare breed of bowlers. It was difficult to pick Kuldeep off the hand as he possesses a deceiving googly but Hope did well in scoring runs against him.
Hope and Lewis weathered the early storm and led the West Indies fightback. Hope took charge and was well supported by Evin Lewis at the other end but the required run-rate was on a constant rise. Hope reached his fifty in the 19th over with West Indies being 71 for the loss of two wickets. He bid enough time at the crease and was looking to pounce on loose deliveries. Ashwin was bowling well, but the moment he bowled a short delivery in the 19th over, Hope was all set to hit it over cow corner for his first six. Hope was now looking threatening and started to shift gears. He plundered another six off the very first delivery of the next over from Kuldeep and the partnership was now garnering runs at a brisk pace.
Just when things were starting to look good for West Indies, Lewis shimmied down the wicket but failed to make any connection with the ball and was eventually stumped by Dhoni. Lewis was playing on 21 off 36 deliveries before his dismissal and the pressure of enduring too many dot deliveries probably forced him to play a big shot. Hope looked good at the other end but the target was still very far and the required run-rate was just on the rise. At the end of 25th over, West Indies were placed at 106 for 3 and needed to accelerate. Hope defended the first delivery off the 26th over by Kuldeep and did extremely well in placing the next one over extra cover for a six. But Kuldeep had the last laugh as he trapped him leg before on the very next delivery, which was initially given not out by the on-field umpire. India reviewed the decision, and the replay showed the ball had pitched in line, the impact was also in line and it was hitting the leg stump. Kuldeep scalped his second wicket of the innings while Hope missed out on a well-deserved century.
Hope showed good intent with the bat, he attacked the loose deliveries and respected the good ones. He was astute in picking his bowlers and deliveries, which was perhaps, one of the main reasons behind his success. If West Indies are eyeing to fight back, they will certainly need to pull up and bring their best game out as India have been in good form in this format.