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“Hope left it a bit too late and was eventually lucky to get a tie as the man in the deep failed to stop the boundary despite a good effort. Hope was clearly distraught at the end of the match as he too would have known that a bit more initiative especially in the final 10 overs, could have drawn Windies level in the series”

After a poor performance in the Test series, the West Indies are proving to be a handful in the ODI series again India. In the first ODI, they made India chase 323, while in the next game, they were asked to chase down 322. On both occasions, the track was excellent throughout the 50 overs, making it an even game. West Indies needed their batsmen to step up once again at Vishakapatnam, which is exactly what they did, but just about failed to get over the line. We saw Shimron Hetmyer garner praise for his blistering century in the previous match. While his 64-ball 94 also went long way in helping Windies secure a tie, it was Shai Hope, who scored his second ODI century and scored a boundary off the last ball to ensure West Indies do not lose this match too.

India would not have minded West Indies scoring at a brisk rate as long as they picked up wickets at regular intervals. Things were going according to plan till the 12th over when West Indies had lost 3 wickets for 78. Hetmyer joined hands with Hope and put the pressure back on India. Hope played second fiddle after making a quick start as Hetmyer took the Indian bowling apart. The duo were not afraid to take on the Indian spinners, who have been a thorn in the flesh of many batsmen around the world. They also brought the required run-rate to below 6 an over. After Hetmyer was dismissed in the 32nd over, it was all up to Hope to guide West Indies home. The required run-rate at that stage was 5.60 and with 6 wickets in hand, West Indies were clear favourites, but needed someone to hang around with Hope.

Credit has to be given to Hope. He did not throw away his wicket looking for the good shots and tried to knock the ball around. With just 63 required from the final 10 overs with 5 wickets remaining, this game was West Indies’ to lose. But we have seen many a tram lose from this situation before, but Hope was determined that this would not be one of those days for his team.

Since scoring a century in this second ODI against Zimbabwe, Hope has been a tad inconsistent. When you bat at No. 3 or 4, you have to score big on a regular basis, but Hope in most matches has gotten off to starts but has failed to convert it into something substantial. The other concern with Hope is his scoring rate. He has a strike-rate well below 70, which is nothing short of ordinary in modern day cricket. In fact in the previous 10 innings before the ton at Vishakapatnam, Hope has failed to score at a strike-rate of 70 or more in 9 innings. You do have a lot of time to bat when you come in at No. 3, but that does not mean you can eat away a lot of deliveries, scoring a little. This might put pressure on the batsmen to follow and in the end, the team might end up with below par score.

But Windies rely on Hope heavily in the Tests and the ODIs. He is still an integral part of the team in both formats and with time, he will only get better. There was never any question over his talent and potential, ever since he made his international debut, aged 21. Three years later, things remain the same as Hope is yet to achieve his full potential. His twin centuries at Headingley were a treat to watch as it came at the back of a crushing defeat that saw Windies lose 19 wickets in a day.

The 123 not out against India will hopefully take Hope’s career in an upward path, especially in the ODIs, in which he now averages close to 41. While he is known to play according to the situation of the match, his below-par strike-rate can be out down to that, but even he will know that it is an area which he will have to improve. The strokes players play in Tests and ODIs are different and Hope needs to adapt quickly to the two challenging formats.

Hope has also dug Windies out of precarious positions in ODIs. Hope scored 49 not out off 115 balls in a World Cup qualifier match against PNG to help Windies avoid an embarrassing defeat. However, Hope’s slow approach has cost them a match or two recently. His 94-ball 43 against Afghanistan in the World Cup qualifier at No. 5, gave Windies just 197 on the board – A match they lost by 3 wickets. Also, in the recently concluded ODI series against Bangladesh at home, Windies needed 302 to win the series. Chris Gayle (73 off 66), Hetmyer 30 off 42) and Rovman Powell (74* off 41) played vital roles in taking West Indies closer to a victory, Hope scores 64 off 94, letting the pressure climb on Windies and eventually lost the match and the series by 18 runs. Hope clearly needs to know at what point he should start attacking, once he is set.

Even at Vishakapatnam, Hope scored 17 runs off his final 17 deliveries at a time, when Windies would have hoped that he will be the man to finish the game off with a few deliveries remaining. Hope got to his century off 113 deliveries and his team from there on needed just 34 off 29, with 5 wickets in hand. Hope got just 5 off Umesh Yadav’s 47th over. The pressure got to Windies thereafter and Jason Holder was run out as a result and that over yielded just 2 runs. 20 off the final two overs too was well within sight. It would mean Hope not just take the strike as much as possible, but also make the best use of those deliveries. He faced 7 deliveries in the final two overs and scored 11 runs.

Hope left it a bit too late and was eventually lucky to get a tie as the man in the deep failed to stop the boundary despite a good effort. Hope was clearly distraught at the end of the match as he too would have known that a bit more initiative especially in the final 10 overs, could have drawn Windies level in the series.

It was good to see West Indies not losing the match, but the scoreline still reads India 1, West Indies 0 with 3 to play.

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