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Hope joins illustrious WI centurion club, as hosts beat Sri Lanka in opening ODI

Openers Shai Hope and Evin Lewis set a new record opening stand of 143 runs against Sri Lanka today, as West Indies whipped the visitors by eight wickets in the first CG Insurance One-Day International at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in Antigua.

The partnership eclipsed West Indies’ previous best of 133, which was set by Sir Gordon Greenidge and Desmond Haynes at Adelaide Oval in 1985.

Photo: West Indies opener Shai Hope drives for four runs during the 1st ODI against Sri Lanka at the Sir Vivian Richards Cricket Stadium in North Sound, Antigua on 10 March 2021.
(Copyright Randy Brooks/AFP via Getty Images)

Hope made 110 from 133 balls with 12 fours and a six, as West Indies reached 236-2 off 47 overs in reply to Sri Lanka’s 232 off 49 overs. Lewis made 65 with four fours and two sixes—the second a mammoth hit which landed on the roof of the stand at the Sir Curtly Ambrose End.

“I just had patience and trusted my ability,” said Hope, who was adjudged man of the match. “I made sure I negated the threat that they threw at us. [Wanindu] Hasaranga was the main threat and I think we played him very well. He didn’t get any wickets.” 

Sri Lanka won the toss and batted first; and they started well, as Danushka Gunathilaka (55) and captain Dimuth Karunaratne (52) put on 105 for the first wicket. Gunathilaka was eventually dismissed, controversially, for obstructing the field—after an appeal by West Indies captain Kieron Pollard.

Gunathilaka played a shortish ball from Pollard down in front of him and started for a quick single. As Pollard rushed down the wicket at him, he changed his mind and attempted to reverse course. In so doing, he stepped on the ball which by then was behind him and blocked Pollard’s access to it.

The obstruction did not seem deliberate or ‘wilful(ly)’, which Rule 37 requires. But Joel Wilson, the on-field umpire, deemed it so in response to Pollard’s vociferous appeal. Somewhat surprisingly, the third umpire, Nigel Duguid, concurred.

Photo: Sri Lanka ace Danushka Gunathilaka was controversially dismissed for 55 after West Indies captain Kieron Pollard appealed for obstruction of field.

Jason Holder picked up two for 39 off his 10 overs while Jason Mohammed had two for 12 from four overs, in a satisfying outing for the West Indies bowlers.

“They were 100 without loss and we were looking at a chase of 300,” said Pollard. “We thought we needed to up the intensity in the field. They lost a couple of wickets and it started the slide.”

Karunaratne said his charges were 30 to 40 runs short of a competitive target, despite a good start.

“If me and Danushka could have batted longer, it would have been a different story,” he said. “230 is not a good score on these wickets. They could just get singles and rotate the strike. Shai got a start and he batted well. We kept losing wickets in our innings.”

Once Hope and Lewis set the stage for the hosts, the Trinidad and Tobago pair of Darren Bravo (37) and Mohammed (13) saw West Indies over the line without too much bother.

For Hope, today’s century follows a remarkable run of form against Sri Lanka with scores of 115, 51, 72 and 110 in his last four ODIs against the South Asia nation. It was his 10th hundred, the most by a West Indian wicket-keeper. 

Photo: West Indies opener Shai Hope on the go.

The list of West Indies players to manage 10 ODI centuries are: Chris Gayle (25), Brian Lara (19), Haynes (17), Greenidge (11), Sir Viv Richards (11), Shivnarine Chanderpaul (11) and Marlon Samuels (10).

“It feels great to hit a century,” Hope told CWI Media. “Being away from the game for so long when playing is all you know—it’s just great to be back.”

In 2019, Hope scored 1,345 ODI runs from 26 innings. Only Lara, with 1,349 runs from 30 innings, has been more prolific for West Indies in a calendar year.

There was little sign today that the Covid-19 pandemic has slowed Hope down and Pollard hailed the Barbadian star’s impact on the ODI side.

“For us in white-ball cricket, Hope is the guy,” said Pollard. “He’s been given a role and he gives us the foundation and others can bat around him. In one-day cricket he’s been fantastic. 

“We still had a couple of fumbles and weren’t perfect. The guys are up for the fight.”

West Indies and Sri Lanka meet for the second ODI at the same venue from 9.30am on Friday.

Photo: West Indies opener Evin Lewis blasts for six runs during the 1st ODI against Sri Lanka at the Sir Vivian Richards Cricket Stadium in North Sound, Antigua on 10 March 2021.
(Copyright Randy Brooks/AFP via Getty Images)

(Summarised scores)

West Indies won by eight wickets with three overs to spare;

Sri Lanka 232 all out (Danushka Gunathilaka 55, Dimuth Karunaratne 52; Jason Holder 2 for 39, Jason Mohammed 2 for 12);

West Indies 236 for two (Shai Hope 110, Evin Lewis 65; Dushmantha Chameera 2 for 50).

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