Shai Hope played the perfect shot to end the year when he cleared the ropes at point with the second ball of the final over as West Indies beat England by four wickets in a cliffhanger on Thursday night.
Playing before a colorful and supportive crowd at the Brian Lara Cricket Academy, Hope’s heroics with the bat helped the home side claim the five-match T20 International Series 3-2.
West Indies bowled first and dismissed England for 132. In pursuit of 133, the home boys slumped from a strong position of 95-3 in the 15th over to 123-6 with 12 balls left, to leave the series decider on a knife’s edge.
Left needing nine runs to win from a nerve-wracking last over bowled by left-arm pacer Sam Curran, West Indies scrambled three off the first ball courtesy of Jason Holder’s under edge to deep square.
Hope then eased the pressure by slicing the next delivery – a wide full-length ball – for six to end on a precious run-a-ball unbeaten 43 and take West Indies to a 3-2 victory in the series.
We always knew that Shai Hope was going to be the important man on this wicket,” said West Indies captain Rovman Powell. “When the English batters batted, we realized that it wasn’t a wicket that offered a lot of shots so if we have somebody in our middle who can graft, get to 40 off 35 balls, that would serve us as a batting group well.”
Sherfane Rutherford chipped in with a crucial 30 off 24 balls while opener Johnson Charles cracked 27 off 22 balls in his first match of the series.
The win was set up by some magnificent bowling. It was Man-of-the-Match Gudakesh Motie who crippled the innings with career-best figures in his fifth match. The left-arm spinner produced a remarkable spell of 4-0-34-3 – picking up the key wickets of Phil Salt (38), Liam Livingstone (28), and Harry Brook (7) cheaply. The West Indies other left-arm spinner Akeal Hosein was also effective in his familiar home conditions as he ended with 4-0-20-2 -as he had the scalps of Will Jacks and Mooen Ali.
Facing a required run rate of just over six per over, West Indies lost Brandon King for three at the start of the third over when he skied left-armer Reece Topley (2-17) to mid-wicket and Nicholas Pooran followed for ten in the fourth, playing on to seamer Chris Woakes.
Charles landed a few solid blows with a four and a couple of maximums but when he slapped an Adil Rashid (2-21) full toss low to Buttler at cover at the end of the eighth over, the home side were still only 54-3.
Hope, who counted two fours and a six, then combined with Rutherford in a 41-run, fourth-wicket partnership that appeared poised to see West Indies to victory.
Left-hander Rutherford was the aggressor with a four and a couple of sixes but his dismissal, taken low down at cover by Curran off leg-spinner Rashid, sparked the collapse which saw three wickets tumble for 18 runs.
Hope then performed his heroics as he rescued the chase and won the match in style to spark celebrations all around the ground as West Indies marked their third T20I Series of the year following wins over South Africa in Johannesburg and India in Fort Lauderdale.