MASTERCLASS!

Captain Shai Hope produced a sublime masterclass in the form of his 16th One-Day International hundred as West Indies pulled off a record run chase to stun England by four wickets in the opening ODI, yesterday.

Asked to chase a demanding 326 at the Vivian Richards Cricket Stadium, the home side overhauled their target with seven balls to spare, to register their highest successful run chase in the Caribbean and second highest overall.

The unflappable Hope was at the heart of his side’s enterprise, carving out a sparkling unbeaten 109 off 83 balls, his fastest ever ODI century. He struck four fours and seven sixes—the last three of which came in the penultimate over from wayward left-arm seamer Sam Curran.

The first of the three—over wide long on—took him to 97, the second off the fourth ball raised his hundred off 82 deliveries and the final one of the very next ball, fired West Indies to only their fourth victory over England in their last 20 ODIs.

Left-handed opener Alick Athanaze dazzled with 66 from 65 balls, big-hitting Romario Shepherd helped turn the game with a 28-ball 48 at number seven, while Brandon King chipped in with 35 and Shimron Hetmyer, 32.

“It was in a winning cause and that’s all I play for,” Hope said of the hundred which pulled him within one of chief selector Desmond Haynes and within three of batting great Brian Lara, on the all-time West Indies list.

“The stats will come as a [by-product] but my aim is to win games so I’m just happy that the guys crossed the line today.” The 30-year-old added: “We got the win, we started the series on a high and the aim is to repeat this here in the second game.”

England had earlier gathered 325 all out off their 50 overs after choosing to bat, Harry Brook top-scoring with 71 off 72 balls, number three Zak Crawley lashing 48 from 63 deliveries and opener Phil Salt getting 45 from 28 balls.

Left-arm spinner Gudakesh Motie (2-49), along with fast bowlers Oshane Thomas (2-57) and Shepherd (2-77), grabbed two wickets each but struggled to contain England early on.

Salt lashed five fours and three sixes in a 77-run opening stand with Will Jacks (26) and when both fell in successive overs with no addition to the score, Crawley added a further 33 for the third with Ben Duckett (20).

Crawley, who counted five fours, combined with Brook in a 71-run fourth wicket stand which put England in charge of the contest, the visitors cruising to 163 without further loss at the half-way stage.

When Crawley was run out in the 30th over, captain Jos Buttler followed soon after for three, gloving a reverse sweep to first slip off Motie at 191 for five in the 34th over. Two partnerships then

lifted England to their eventual total. Brook, who struck seven fours and two sixes, put on 41 for the sixth with Liam Livingstone (17) before Curran (38) and Brydon Carse (31 not out) posted 66 for the eighth.

Athanaze then provided the early fireworks in the West Indies reply, the 24-year-old lashing nine fours and a brace of sixes in a 104-run opening stand with King, who counted four fours and a six in a measured 44-ball knock.

Athanaze perished lbw in the 18th over, missing a sweep at a googly from leg-spinner Rehan Ahmed (2-40) and King followed six balls later in the next over, bowled off his thigh pad by off-spinner Livingstone.

Hope stabilised the innings in a 38-run, third wicket partnership with Keacy Carty (16) but once the latter was lbw to seamer Brydon at the start of the 30th, West Indies were in need of an urgent rebuild.

That came in two crucial partnerships — Hope posting 56 for the fourth wicket with Hetmyer and a further 89 in a match-changing sixth wicket stand with Shepherd. Hetmyer struck four fours in a 30-ball knock before holing out to fine leg in the 38th and Sherfane Rutherford (6) endured an eventful three-ball debut before pulling Rehan Ahmed down the throat of deep square.

With West Indies facing a required run rate of a shade over ten per over at that stage, the advantage remained with England but Hope and Shepherd quickly changed the complexion of the game.

Hope raised his fifty off 51 balls by carting Rehan Ahmed for a straight six and needed only 31 balls to bring up triple figures. Shepherd, meanwhile, flexed his shoulders, clobbering four fours and three sixes as West Indies plundered 101 runs from the last 47 balls of the innings.