Shai Hope, five runs short of his third ODI hundred but with his side in deep trouble at 185 for 6, told Keemo Paul to hang in there with him.
Paul arrived at the crease with West Indies needing 71 runs in the last eleven overs. Hope had just lost the side’s other recognised batsman, Roston Chase, at the other end. Bangladesh’s bowlers had their tail up, but Hope, unsurprisingly, never gave up hope.
There was reason to believe, too. Paul’s big-hitting 36 in the first ODI had helped West Indies avoid a really low score, and his reputation as a helpful tail-ender was enough for Hope to cling to. He delivered, despite two dropped catches in the deep leg-side field, with a crucial unbeaten 18 that ensured Hope didn’t have to worry too much even as he went after Mustafizur Rahman and Rubel Hossain in the 48th and 49th overs.
“[The plan] was just to bat as deep as possible,” Hope said. “We know Keemo has very good batting ability. I had full confidence in him. We just tried to rotate as best as possible. We knew the wicket was a bit difficult to come in and strike from ball one, so he played a very crucial hand here to go over the line.”
But the evening belonged to Hope, who was adjudged player of the match for an unbeaten 148 that contained 12 fours and three sixes. Despite spending most of the innings running hard for the 106 singles and 18 twos, it was his first and third six that had stirred West Indies to life.
The first came in the ninth over when, after Chandrapaul Hemraj’s early dismissal, West Indies’ scoring rate was dipping, just like it had in all their previous matches on this tour when they had lost an early wicket.
Hope drove Mustafizur over long-off, which helped his second-wicket stand with Darren Bravo to pick up the pace. By the time he had to find his third six, West Indies desperately needed some renewed impetus with 32 needed off the last three overs. With Rubel coming around the wicket, he took his front foot out of the way and slammed him straight into the sightscreens.
Hope then struck Mustafizur for three fours in the penultimate over, bringing down one of the best death-over bowlers in world cricket. Afterwards, he admitted it was a happy moment for him to score, at last, an ODI hundred in a match-winning effort for West Indies.
“It must be above the other two, because we tied those games. I am just pleased to get over the line. It is great to score a hundred but there’s more joy if you can get over the line as a team.
“I just believed regardless of what was happening. We are here to play cricket, compete and win. It is only a matter of time before we get over the line,” he said.
Hope said that he grabbed the opportunity to bat the entire length of the innings, but had to adapt to Bangladesh’s spin threat as well as Mustafizur’s cutters towards the end of the innings.
“It was about pacing the innings. I knew that someone had to bat deep. I got the opportunity to start at the top of the order. I had all 50 overs. We knew that they will throw spin at us in the first 10 overs of the game. We came with a different plan and it came off this time.
“When the bowlers took some pace off, it was a lot more difficult to get bat on ball, especially against Fizz. His offcutters were quite difficult to get away in the crucial stage. The wicket wasn’t the best for strokeplay but it was much better than the last game.”