Brian Lara feels Shai Hope is the “best option” to lead the West Indies batting unit across formats
Hope has been amazingly consistent for the West Indies in the last couple of years.
Updated - Dec 16, 2019 5:06 pm
West Indies pulled off a rare ODI win over the Men in Blue thanks to a Brobdingnagian 218-run partnership between Shai Hope  and Shimron Hetmyer [139 off 106 balls] that helped them overhaul India’s total of 288 at the Chepauk. One of the most heartening things about the partnership between Shai Hope and Hetmyer was the fact that contrasting approaches brought similar end results.
While Hetmyer was at his flamboyant best- especially against the spinners- Shai Hope played a perfect anchor role to the belligerent southpaw. Hope brought in a calming influence to the partnership; one that allowed Hetmyer to dig deep into his reserves of talent without having to worry about the other end. In Hope, he had hope. And, there’s a reason why.
Hope, in his short international career, has brought something which had been missing from the Windies set-up for some time now- Consistency. He averages over 95 in India and is competing with the likes of Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma as far as most ODI runs in the current calendar year is concerned.
And, former West Indies captain, Brian Lara thinks that Shai Hope is the “best option” as far as spearheading the sides’ batting unit across all the three formats in the upcoming days at the top of the order, something Chris Gayle used to do in his prime. “Presently, I think Shai Hope is the best option we have in terms of a batsman who can play all formats. He is not a bad attacking player, pretty much a decent Test player.
“He will stand out. Pooran, Hetmyer and even Brandon King the new find, these are guys that you can mould. I think that they will mature a little bit later than others. Some guys like Sachin Tendulkar — at 16 he was already a mature cricketer — or Carl Hooper matured very early. There is nothing wrong with maturing later in life,” Brian Lara said as quoted by Times Now.
Strike-rotation + bowling- Things that Lara wants the West Indies to work on
The West Indies, under the leadership of captain Kieron Pollard and coach Phil Simmons, look like a team on a mission. They look driven, motivated and up for a challenge. And, as Kieron Pollard said, they are hugely spurred on to improve their fortunes in ODI cricket.
One of the things that have been the nemesis for the Caribbeans in 50-over cricket in the past few years is the inability of their batsmen to switch gears according to the situation and the lack of strike-rotation in the middle-overs. And, Lara feels this is why the West Indies batsmen will have to work on.
“I could go back to when I played, I was pretty much a diminutive player, not very strong, and I felt that the one day game helped me manoeuvre well,” he said. “The middle overs are very important. When you compare the 20-over game to the 50-over game, the disparity is huge. Some players are maybe caught in the mindset of attacking every single ball. You have to understand that it is a seven-hour game and a lot can happen within it,” he said.
Lara feels that the biggest positive for the West Indies from this series will be their batting. The champion batsman, however, pointed out that there were still concerns in the bowling department. “I think they know that the batting is going to get better through experience. It’s the bowling that they will have to tweak a bit to make sure that they get the right combination.
“Hopefully, they will take a lot back from the series and get the confidence needed. It’s roughly nine-ten months to the World Cup and I’m sure the West Indies are going to present themselves well,” he said. West Indies are 1-0 up in three-match series and will hope they can emulate their performance of Chennai and do what no West Indies team has done since 2006- beat India in an ODI series- in the second game at Vizag.