After his highest score in a One Day International, 146 not out, and sharing in an unbroken 71-run partnership with Guyanese, Keemo Paul to see West Indies to their first victory on their tour of Bangladesh, Shai Hope is backing Paul with the bat.
Playing primarily as a bowler, Paul scored 18 not out from 31 balls including the winning runs when West Indies needed six from the last over as well as coming in at a time when his team needed 71 from the last 11 overs and with all the recognized batsmen apart from Hope back in the shed.
Hope, speaking during the post-match conference, said the plan was just to bat as deep as possible, “we know Keemo has very good batting abilities and I have full confidence in him.”
The 25-year-old wicketkeeper batsman stated that the only thing going through his mind in the middle was “Just keep believing regardless of what’s happening, we are here play cricket, compete and win. It is only a matter of time before we get over the line.”
He explained that his knock “was about pacing the innings. I knew that someone had to bat deep. I got the opportunity to start at the top of the order. I had all 50 overs, just a bit disappointed for some of the guys in the middle to get out at that stage. The key was to bat as deep as possible and make sure that we win the game.”
Hope explained “We just tried to rotate as best as possible, we knew the wicket was a bit difficult to come in and strike from ball one so he played a very crucial hand here to go over the line. It [the wicket] was a bit slow. When the bowlers took some pace off, it was a lot more difficult to get bat on ball especially against Fizz [Mustafizur Rahman]. His off cutters were quite difficult to get away in the crucial stage. The wicket wasn’t the best for strokeplay but it was much better than the last game.”
This is the first time Hope has scored a century that resulted in a win for the Caribbean side with the previous two resulting in ties which the Bajan-born noted “…must be above the other two, because we tied the last two games. I am just pleased to get over the line. It is great to score a hundred but there’s more joy if you can get over the line as a team.” Hope was also impressed with Oshane Thomas, saying “He is very quick. He needs to keep putting in the work. We know that we can depend on him to take a few wickets at the top and in the middle overs. He will improve if he keeps doing it”.
On the back of their lone tour victory so far, Hope believes his team can win the series saying “definitely, we have come here to win the games, we came here to fight and make sure we finish the series 2-1.”
Hope added, “the guys have been working really hard so very pleased to get this win. We should celebrate a bit more because we didn’t have much to celebrate in recent times,” but looking at the decider, the opener stated “we had to adapt as fast as possible.
We knew that they will throw spin at us in the first 10 overs of the game. We came with a different plan and it came off this time.”