North Sound, Antigua and Barbuda: Shai Hope’s 16th hundred and the rampaging support of all-rounder Romario Shepherd lifted the West Indies to a record-breaking four-wicket victory in a high-scoring opening duel of the three-match One-Day International series at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in Antigua on Sunday.
Set a daunting target of 326 by the visitors, the home captain anchored the effort through an unsteady period and then exploded with an array of mighty strokes, finishing the match with three sixes off Sam Curran in the penultimate over to seal the result with an unbeaten 109.
Winning is the sole aim
This effort surpassed the previous best of 276 by the West Indies against Sri Lanka in 2021 as the highest successful run-chase in an ODI by any team at the venue.
Hope’s innings spanned 83 deliveries and was embellished by seven sixes and four fours, earning him the “Man of the Match” award.
Yet it was the role of Shepherd, who blazed 48 off 28 balls in a sixth-wicket partnership of 89, which got the West Indies back into the match when it appeared to have slipped away from them at 213 for five in the 39th over despite 66 at the top of the order from Alick Athanaze and an opening stand of 104 with Brandon King.
“Stats and record will come along by the way but my aim is to win matches and I’m happy to have played a part in that today,” was Hope’s immediate assessment of his effort, preferring to offer fulsome praise of Shepherd. “He was amazing. He is someone you can always rely on and he continues to show his worth at this level.”
Earlier, Harry Brook held the England innings together through the middle overs but it was blistering assaults at the top and tail of the 50-over contest, which lifted them to a competitive 325 all out.
Openers Phil Salt and Will Jacks blazed 77 at almost 10 runs per over after Jos Buttler elected to take first strike.
Hope’s bowlers then took advantage of a two-paced surface to pull the scoring rate down significantly before Sam Curran and Brydon Carse regained the frenetic early tempo in an eighth-wicket stand of 66 as 86 runs were taken off the final nine overs of the innings.
Brook’s 71 came off 72 balls with seven fours and two sixes as the West Indies bowlers mixed up the pace of their deliveries to earn reward. Spinner Gudakesh Motie and pacers Shepherd and Oshane Thomas claimed two wickets each.
“I thought it was a fantastic effort by us with the bat,” said Buttler in reflecting on the match. “It needed a special innings to chase it down and West Indies got that from Hope with support from Shepherd.”
In the aftermath of a disastrous World Cup defence in India, England now find themselves in a must-win situation going into the second match at the same venue on Wednesday.