West Indies captain Shai Hope played the anchor role to perfection in taking his team to a series-levelling six-wicket victory over India in the second One Day International of a three-match series at Kensington Oval in Barbados on Saturday.
After his bowlers capitalised on a helpful pitch and an unconvincing India batting effort to dismiss their opponents for 181 off 40.5 overs, Hope’s unbeaten 63 and the support of Keacy Carty (48 not out) in an unbroken fifth-wicket partnership of 91 ended a nine-match run of defeats to India in ODIs spanning four years.
It was also a swift comeback in the wake of the Caribbean side’s dispiriting five-wicket loss in the opening match at the same venue on Thursday and sets the stage for the series decider on Tuesday at the Brian Lara Stadium in Trinidad.
Hope was joined by Carty when Kuldeep Yadav bowled Shimron Hetmyer to leave the home side at 91/4 in the 17th over.
That strike came after Shardul Thakur’s three-wicket burst which brought India back into the match following a 53-run opening stand between Kyle Mayers and Brandon King.
“Once I can contribute to team wins I am happy. Whether I get a 50, whether I get a hundred, whether I get a double-hundred, as long as we win I am happy,” said a delighted Hope.
Of his partnership with Carty, he added: “Against such a good bowling attack, we had to push hard for ones and twos and that kept us on course.”
Earlier, left-arm spinner Gudakesh Motie and seamer Romario Shepherd claimed three wickets each as India, who rested regular captain Rohit Sharma and premier batsman Virat Kohli, tumbled after an opening stand of 90 between Ishan Kishan and Shubman Gill.
With their innings also interrupted twice by seasonal showers, the visitors laboured to gain any middle or lower-order momentum.
Motie separated the opening pair when Gill, on 34, was held at long-off and Kishan slashed a short ball from Shepherd four balls later to be well held by Alick Athanaze diving at backward-point.
Kishan’s 55, his second consecutive half-century, came off 55 balls with six four and one six.
Suryakumar Yadav, who scored 24 off 25 balls, was the only other player in the line-up to last any length of time in the middle as the pace of Alzarri Joseph (2 for 35) also proved unsettling for the visitors.
“This will now get the character out of everyone going to a decider rather than a dead match,” said stand-in captain Hardik Pandya in putting a positive spin on the loss.
“Things didn’t go our way today but we still had some good performances so we are all looking forward to the final match.”