Hope threatens to make Tigers hopeless

Azad Majumder . Taunton | Updated at 11:15pm on June 14, 2019

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West Indies’ Shai Hope leaps into the air to avoid a bouncer from England’s Jofra Archer during their 2019 Cricket World Cup match at the Rose Bowl in Southampton on Friday. — AFP photo

Chris Gayle and Evin Lewis returned to give West Indies’ top-order a more formidable look, but the one player continued to give Bangladesh headache ahead of their next World Cup contest is neither of the explosive duo.

Shai Hope may lack the fire power like some of his other illustrious team-mates, but he got the kind of consistency that would make any side wary of the 25-year old right-handed batsman.

Bangladesh are aware of the fact more than any other team, having faced West Indies regularly in the past one-and-half year where Hope played a big innings in almost every game.

In the nine fifty-over matches the two teams played since 2018, Hope scored 662 runs in Bradmanesque average of 94.57, which included three hundreds and as many fifties.

Only Pakistan’s Salman Butt had a better average (96.16) against Bangladesh as he made 577 runs in seven matches, all in 2008 when Bangladesh were not still a force to be reckoned with.

Hope matched the consistency of Kumar Sangakkara, who once made it a habit of scoring big against Bangladesh, making 1206 runs with five hundreds and six fifties in 31 matches.

One of Sangakkara’s five hundreds, an unbeaten 105 runs, came in the previous World Cup, which actually was the beginning of his four consecutive hundreds in the competition.

It remained to be seen if Hope can emulate the great Sri Lankan, but he at least could show in this World Cup that he does not only score runs against Bangladesh.

Hope’s fighting innings of 68 runs nearly set up a win for West Indies against Australia, which came as an indication that he can score runs against any attack under any circumstance.

Bangladesh will be hoping to send him back early before he can set-up any foundation for West Indies’s explosive batsmen, who would follow him in the batting order.

Hope gave West Indies a strong platform in almost every game during the recent tri-series tournament in Ireland, but the side crumbled inevitably once he got dismissed.

This is one reason Bangladesh won seven of their nine matches against West Indies despite his heavy scoring but a World Cup game often does not follow the manuscript of a bilateral match.

‘He has done well against us. He had a very good tournament leading into the World Cup. He is a very good player. We have to focus more on getting our job done. We will be happy if we execute well,’ said Hope’s compatriot and Bangladesh team’s bowling coach Courtney Walsh on Friday.

With the likes of Nicholas Pooran, Shimron Hetmyer, Andre Russell, who can single-handedly destroy any attack, now back in the side, things could always be difficult for Bangladesh in the World Cup once Hope gets a start.

Two years ago in a Test match at Leeds, Hope struck twin hundreds to help West Indies knock off a target of 332 runs in the fourth innings, something that no other team could do in Headlingly since Bradman’s invincible side rocketed to 404-3 in 1948.

A similar phenomenal effort from the Barbados boy could translate the end of Bangladesh’s World Cup dream as they are now in a must-win situation against West Indies.