Relieved Hope happy to help Windies dominate

LEEDS, England, CMC – Shai Hope said his maiden Test hundred yesterday against England had come with a sense of relief, following below-par performances in his previous 11 Tests.

The stylish right-hander’s previous best in 21 innings was 90 against Pakistan in Bridgetown four months ago but he fashioned an excellent, unbeaten 147 at Headingley to finally crack triple figures.

“It was a big relief. I know within myself that I should be performing much better than I am so I was just pleased to get over the line. Thanks to Kraigg (Brathwaite) again for the support in the middle, he made my job a little bit easier,” said the 23-year-old.

“Honestly, [I was thinking] of staying out there as long as possible for the team. It was about trying to get as many runs on the board as possible so I’m actually pleased I got through the 90s a bit faster.

“It was moreso the [total] and the time at the wicket that I was more concerned about than the 90s.”

Hope was joined by opener and vice-captain Brathwaite who struck 134 – his sixth Test hundred – as West Indies flourished on day two of the encounter to reach 329 for five in their first innings.

The pair added 246 for the fourth wicket to pull West Indies around from danger, after they slumped to 35 for three early in the morning session.

Brathwaite said the focus of the partnership was determination and placing a high value on their wickets.

“We communicated well. We knew there were some tough periods we had to fight through and I think we did that well,” he explained.

“We knew the plan, we knew our plan and we just worked with it. We kept encouraging each other and the key word was ‘fight’.

“I wasn’t worried [in the morning session]. I believe in the team and we showed it. The key for us was fight and that’s what we went out there and did.”

Hope added: “It’s Test cricket, you have to dig in. England have some quality bowlers on their team so you had to make sure you stayed there as long as possible and not leave it for the other guys inside to do the job.”

The performance was a far cry from the debacle of last weekend when the Windies lost 19 wickets on the third day to collapse to an innings defeat in the opening Test at Edgbaston.

But Brathwaite said the Caribbean side had been eager to turn the page on that outing and build on Friday’s solid outing with the ball.

“As a team I thought we had the belief – we weren’t going to give up. That was the mindset. We bowled them out for 258 and decided we would go out there and work hard, believe in ourselves and that’s what we did,” he noted.

“We will play it as it goes. The key tomorrow for us is to build on the lead and we’ll take it from there as a team.”

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