West Indies captain Shai Hope credited former India captain MS Dhoni after his brilliant, match-winning hundred in the first ODI against England at the Sri Vivian Richards Stadium in Antigua yesterday (December 3).
Chasing a big total of 326 in the first of the three ODIs, West Indies started strong with Alick Athanaze and Brandon King registering a century opening partnership. Hope arrived at the crease with the score reading 106-2 and anchored the chase to perfection, remaining unbeaten on 109 off 83 balls to see West Indies home.
This was Hope’s 16th ODI hundred as he crossed the 5,000-run mark during this knock. After the game, Hope revealed how a conversation with the India legend MS Dhoni had played a part in his approach to the ODI game.
“A very, very famous person, MS Dhoni, we had a chat a while ago, and he was saying, ‘You always have a lot more time than you think,'” Hope said during the post-match presentation ceremony. “That’s one thing that has stuck with me throughout the years I’ve been playing ODI cricket.”
Dhoni was famously known for following the philosophy of ‘taking it deep’ in run-chases. He remained unbeaten 50 times while chasing in his ODI career. India won 47 of those matches.
Hope, like Dhoni, is a wicket-keeper batter who is batting in the middle order in ODIs these days. He didn’t start his ODI career at this position though. Nearly 4,000 of his 5,049 ODI runs have been scored while batting in the top three.
Having assumed captaincy of the West Indies ODI team earlier this year, he has shifted down to No.4 to better suit his team’s requirements and has adapted his game according to the position.
Hope’s ODI career strike rate stands at 77.58, a far cry from the run-a-ball strike rates that are usually the norm these days, but this year, he has struck at 96.2 – his highest strike rate in ODIs in any calendar year.
Hope’s evolution as an ODI batter was perfectly characterised by his century against England yesterday (December 3), where he took just 82 balls to reach his hundred, his quickest in the format.
He also credited Romario Shepherd, who made a crucial contribution of 48 off just 28 balls batting at No.7. “He was amazing,” Hope said. “He’s one of those guys you can depend on and he’s continued to show his worth at this level. We’re starting the series on a high and the aim is to repeat this in the second game.”
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