Windies skipper targets decisive victory versus England
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados — There is little doubt where West Indies Captain Shai Hope’s mind is but he was cautious not to overstate that mindset going into the final One-Day International (ODI) against England at Kensington Oval here on Saturday, as the home team seeks the clincher in the three-match series locked 1-1.
Hope, playing in his native Barbados, says he feels no pressure as the West Indies go after win number two in the series against the tourists. The contest is set to bowl off at 1:30 pm (12:30 pm Jamaica time).
“Firstly, I think pressure is relative, it’s [more] of how you take it on as a professional athlete [that matters]…we understand what’s at stake with the series tied one-one and we have it all to play for.
“[Of course] any series against England is a big one and playing in front of the home fans, [we will be going for the win] — and that is what we will be trying to do,” he told journalists after a training session at the match venue on Friday.
The 30-year-old Hope, a specialist batsman/wicketkeeper, admits that his team goes into today’s ODI decider still needing to polish up in some aspects of play.
“We can tighten up in a few areas, and one for sure is our fielding and we [also] need to be taking our chances…we also have to start better with the ball — especially at the top — to make earlier inroads. And we have been struggling a little bit to get early wickets and put teams under pressure,” he assessed.
When quizzed about the possibility of power hitter and bowling specialist Romario Shepherd moving up the order as a strategy to throw off the opposition, Hope appeared not sold on the idea despite underlining the value of the Guyanese with the bat.
“We see his [Shepherd] importance in the team — and anyone who has Romario Shepherd in their team has [someone who can boost the innings] — but we think he would [better serve us] finishing off the innings than coming in too early,” said the West Indies skipper.
Hope, while saluting the overall team spirit and collective performance, sought to single out ball wizard Gudakesh Motie for his role in bringing variety to the West Indies bowling attack.
“He is a masterful spinner and one of the guys I can depend on in most situations. As I have said, he is a very dependable bowler and he has shown me [repeatedly] what he can do, and he will be an asset to West Indies cricket going forward in all three formats,” he said of the Guyanese spinner.
In cricket, talent alone does not always guarantee favourable results as non-playing factors like weather, pitch, and outfield conditions can impact outcomes. With this in mind, the Barbadian is hoping for the best conditions and a five-star performance.
“…the wicket can be slightly unpredictable at times but, from what I can see, it looks like a decent surface and I think it should be a nice cricket wicket.
“Whatever we do we have to do it well, so even if the condition is in our favour we still have to perform well and execute out there. Sometimes it [pitch)]will be a factor in games — and I am not sure what that would be in Barbados — [so] we just hope the pitch condition will be good tomorrow [Saturday] and that the fans can enjoy some good cricket,” Hope said.
West Indies open their five-match T20 series against the English on Tuesday, also at Kensington Oval.
SQUADS: West Indies — Shai Hope (c), Alzarri Joseph, Alick Athanaze, Yannic Cariah, Keacy Carty, Roston Chase, Shane Dowrich, Matthew Forde, Shimron Hetmyer, Brandon King, Gudakesh Motie, Kjorn Ottley, Sherfane Rutherford, Romario Shepherd, Oshane Thomas.
England — Jos Buttler (captain), Rehan Ahmed, Gus Atkinson, Harry Brook, Brydon Carse, Zak Crawley, Sam Curran, Ben Duckett, Tom Hartley, Will Jacks, Liam Livingstone, Ollie Pope, Phil Salt, Josh Tongue and John Turner.