Shai Hope’s 127 propels West Indies to 305

50 overs West Indies 305 for 8 (Hope 127, Brooks 70, Rauf 4-77) vs Pakistan

A classy hundred from Shai Hope, his 12th in ODI cricket and one that took him past 4,000 runs in the format, powered West Indies to 305 in the first ODI against Pakistan. The backbone of the innings was a 154-run partnership between Hope and Shamarh Brooks, two men who effortlessly made the transition from Amstelveen, where West Indies completed an ODI series four days ago, to Multan. It laid a superb platform to set a huge total, but Pakistan struck back after Brooks fell for 70 thanks to a glorious diving catch from Shadab Khan. Regular wickets fell in the next 15 overs or so with the run rate kept in check, but a strong finish from Rovman Powell and Romario Shepherd catapulted West Indies past 300.

Winning the toss, Nicholas Pooran opted to put the Pakistan bowlers out in the sizzling Multan heat, looking to put runs on the board on a surface that appeared conducive to batting. Despite a stuttering start that saw West Indies lose Kyle Mayers early – Shaheen Afridi invariably striking in his first spell – Hope and Brooks grew increasingly comfortable out in the middle after the powerplay. Once the field spread out, the dot balls – which there were 40 of in the Powerplay – and strike rotation began to get the momentum going the batters’ way.

The partnership was as artistic as it was effective. There was some sumptuous strokeplay against both spin and pace bowling, with Brooks regularly presenting the full face of the blade in the process of caressing his straight drives, and Hope dismantling Hasan Ali and Mohammad Nawaz.

But when, once too often, Brooks looked to power Nawaz against the turn through midwicket, his fortune ran out. A top edge flew up in the general vicinity of short third man, and if the fielder in question hadn’t been Shadab, the stand might have continued on its jolly way. As it was the allrounder put in a dive, left arm outstretched, plucking the ball out of the air and breathing life into a bowling effort that was beginning to wilt.

Nicholas Pooran could offer little more than a cameo – though consecutive cow-corner sixes off Nawaz kept the runs ticking over. Brandon King’s struggles to get going perhaps recalibrated West Indies expectations of a truly huge score, though, by now, Hope had got to his hundred with a crunching cover drive and appeared to be truly cutting loose.

But once he fell, Pakistan’s death bowlers struck back. There were a few fours and sixes sprinkled through the final overs, but too often for the visitors’ liking, Pakistan managed to sneak in tight overs, undoing some of the damage those boundaries inflicted. Even Hasan Ali, who endured another rough day, pulled things back with a brilliant final over. Even so, at the very end, a couple of sixes from Shepherd and Akeal Hosein guaranteed the visitors a score in excess of 300, throwing down the sort of challenge to Pakistan’s top order that they have, of late, accepted with alacrity.

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