It has been a difficult couple of weeks for Shai Hope. With sustained calls for his axing, the West Indian middle-order batsman needed an innings to keep his critics at bay. His detractors had reason to call for his ouster. Walking in to bat in West Indies’ second innings, Hope had aggregated just 236 runs from his past 16 Test innings – at a woeful average of 14.75 – something that would humble a late-order batsman – not just a number four bat that Hope is.
While the 23-year-old had looked promising in his last few innings, he needed that one knock to set his Test career rolling. On Wednesday, Hope took giant strides towards forging a fine international career – his 90 being the base on which his team ended the day with a handy lead of 183 runs.
On a pitch that has been deteriorating by the day, Hope’s 90 helped the hosts finish Day 4 at 264/9, with an overall lead of 183 runs, setting up the Test for an exciting finish. “It has given me a lot of confidence despite I didn’t get the hundred but it was a tough pitch to bat on – especially to start on – as the spinners were getting some turn out of the rough especially,” Hope said on Wednesday (May 3).
“I can take a lot from the innings. It’s just unfortunate I couldn’t carry on,” the number four batsman added.
Hope walked into the middle in the second over of Day 4 after overnight batsman, Shimron Hetmyer, was dismissed without adding to his overnight score of 22. On a difficult track, Hope took his time to settle and then unleashed himself on the Pakistan bowlers. The batsman also found useful support from the rest of the order, adding 56 runs for third wicket with Kraigg Brathwaite, 58 for the fourth with Roston Chase and 80 for the fifth with Vishaul Singh, before being the fifth to be dismissed – with West Indies having earned a lead of 154 runs.
“I trusted the process. I wouldn’t say I changed much with my game. It was just about backing my ability and doing what I need to do in the middle and runs [would] come,” the Barbadian said.
Speaking of his innings, Hope said that he tried to remain positive and his main aim was to just put the bad balls away. “I needed to stay positive. Anything that they gave me to score [off] … I just tried to put away those bad balls. As I said, it was a difficult to pitch to bat on so anything loose you get, you needed to put away.”
With the pitch playing a lot of tricks, Hope believes that early wickets will be the key if his team is to defend whatever target they set against a strong batting line-up like Pakistan. “I believe we always have a chance to win the game and it (pitch) is not getting any better and as a batter you just need to stick in because the longer you’re there, the easier it gets.
“But having said that, the pitch is getting worse and we just need to bowl in the right areas when we come back tomorrow and then see if we get some quick wickets,” Hope signed off.