EAST LONDON, South Africa (CMC) — Shai Hope says he plans to fully embrace his role as the team’s principal run-scorer and gloveman, along with his new responsibilities as captain, after carving out a 14th One-Day International hundred to help propel West Indies to a 48-run win over South Africa in Saturday’s opening match.
The 29-year-old was recently appointed to replace Nicholas Pooran as the head of the ODI squad and celebrated the honour in style with a superb unbeaten 128 at Buffalo Park, in his first innings since becoming captain.
Hope is the Caribbean side’s marquee batsman with an average of 50 from 105 ODIs and also keeps wicket, a combination of roles which the player admitted can be tiring at times.
“It is [a lot of responsibility] but I’m definitely going to take it on full speed. It’s just about giving my all to the team, and if that means I have to bat all 50 overs and then keep, then that’s exactly what I’ll do,” said Hope who arrived at the crease in the 10th over and batted until the end of the 50 overs before donning the gloves for the 42.4 overs of the South Africa reply.
“I’m getting support from all ends so it’s just one of those things where I need to fit into the role. I’ve got support from the guys on the field and off the field. I’ve just to keep embracing that responsibility and when the time comes to shine, I’ll try to do so.”
He added: “I actually forgot how difficult a 50-over game was. I haven’t played since (I think) it was August [New Zealand in the Caribbean].”
Opting to bat first in the second ODI against the backdrop of last Thursday’s washout of the opener, West Indies stormed to 335 for eight — their highest-ever ODI total against South Africa and the highest overall in four years.
Hope was at the centre of their enterprise, the right-hander facing 115 deliveries and striking five fours and seven fours to dictate the tempo of the innings and ensure the visitors plundered 93 from the last 10 overs.
“It felt good. It’s been a while since I’ve played ODI cricket … so it was just nice to get some runs under my belt and it contributed to a team win,” Hope explained.
“I thought it was a difficult pitch to start on. I think batsmen coming in found it challenging but we got a big score in the end. I think as soon as you get in, you’ve got to go big.
“You have to play the situation. There were some periods in the game where I had to buckle down and make sure they didn’t make any more inroads, but for us soaking up that pressure was key, especially in the middle there [when] we lost Pooran.
“So I thought that I played the situation pretty well, and credit must go to the batting partners as well to make it easier for me to finish the innings.”
Despite the win, Hope was not short of praise for his opposite number Temba Bavuma who struck a career-best 144 from 118 balls to rattle West Indies.
“An innings like that deserves to be a victorious inning but it just so happened that we came out on top in the end,” Hope said.
“But I must give him credit for the way he patrolled the innings. He played the situation well and he really deserved to win the game playing innings like that, but there can be only one winner.”
West Indies face South Africa in the final ODI of the three-match series at JB Marks Oval in Potchefstroom on Tuesday.