A carefree hundred to relish at Guyana…… 

A few months back, a 21-year old Shimron Hetmyer cracked his maiden ODI hundred, an inconspicuous knock overshadowed by a bullish hundred from his more illustrious partner, Chris Gayle. At Harare in the World Cup Qualifiers, UAE were at the mercy of Gayle, who lambasted them for 123 in 91 balls.

It wasn’t even the highest score of the match. Hetmyer had four runs more at a marginally better strike rate. But this was Gayle. The Universal Boss. His return to the national side and the marauding hundred, even if against lowly UAE, meant that the Windies had an experienced hand at the top cometh the World Cup.

Hetmyer, whose flashy, equally brilliant hundred, was easily forgotten remained in the Windies side but had nothing to showcase for. Before his breathtaking knock against the Tigers at his home ground, Guyana, yesterday, Hetmyer averaged 32.4, mostly boosted by that one ton against UAE.

What he did have in plenty was self-confidence and the ability to shed the callowness when batting and make a difference. With the hosts one down in the series and needing a win to keep the series alive, Hetmyer stood up and announced his arrival in style, this time single-handedly taking them to a substantial, eventually match-winning, total.

At 55 for 2, West Indies were in danger of once again leaving their middle-order to do the bulk of the work against Bangladesh’s spinners. But Hetmyer, walking in at no.4, and on the back of a fine half-century in the previous game, appeared to be in audacious touch. He was up against the spinners early on but looked to settle in at the wicket without resorting to the flamboyance he is usually known for.   

Hetmyer watched as Shai Hope and Jason Mohammad throw their starts away but remained unperturbed by the fall of wickets at the other end. His innings can be divided into two clear halves. The one where he decided he would play out time and focus on keeping the scoreboard ticking and the one where he decided to send the scoreboard into a frenzy with his brash stroke play.

His first 36 runs came off 45 balls as he looked to play himself in at level one but once that first six came off, Hetmyer had taken a ladder and jumped right into level seven. His scoring rate improved, but he wasn’t merely looking to slog. The turn of the 40th over was the cue for Hetmyer to take things into his hands.

On 60 off 63 at that point of time, the left-hander smashed 65 in his next 30 balls, placing the Bangladesh bowlers at his mercy with some stunning strokes. He picked Mashrafe Mortaza’s slower ball and tonked him down the ground to reveal his intentions quite early.

Shakib’s full toss and murdered and he nearly took the walk back to the pavilion next over when Shakib dropped a sitter and lobbed it over for another six. By the 48th over, Hetmyer had reached his hundred, becoming the youngest West Indian to scale the mark in the Caribbean.

This was a risk-free innings, studded with some fabulous shots all around the wicket. It ended in spectacular fashion with three sixes in the last two overs, the final flourish taking the hosts to a competent 271.

Unlike his ton against UAE in March, his game plan had entirely changed as per the situation. He seemed to be on a self-induced leash for the majority of the innings, ensuring that he was present for the final few overs to take his side to a big enough total.

The maturity and composure he showed in the initial half was complemented by a rapid rise in the scoring rate as the innings moved on. Particularly impressive was the manner in which he timed his aggressive approach. The final 10 overs saw West Indies rack up 78 runs of which Hetmyer contributed 57.

As Bangladesh closed in on the target, Hetmyer was itching to ensure that his ton wouldn’t be wasted, so much so that he flung across the turf to pull off a screamer at deep mid-wicket to dismiss Sabbir Rahman and give Jason Holder eight to defend in the final over, something the skipper did quite impressively.

With his second ton at 21, Hetmyer is quickly making himself undroppable in this format of the game. With some of the prominent West Indian players set to return to the side ahead of the World Cup after the Board eased the restrictions on them, Hetmyer needs more of these to stay in the starting eleven.

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