The race to become the first ODI team to 500 has started in earnest – and Shai Hope believes West Indies have the firepower to come out on top.
A centurion in their final warm-up game against New Zealand, the in-form Hope spearheaded West Indies’ mammoth total of 421 in Bristol – their highest-ever score in the limited-overs format. With T20 star Andre Russell, who smashed 54 off just 25 balls at the County Ground, and the likes of Chris Gayle and Shimron Hetmyer also in their ranks, Jason Holder’s side perfectly poised to go even bigger in the coming years.
ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2019 hosts England, current record holders having blasted 481 against Australia at Trent Bridge last year, are also on the hunt for the milestone total – but Hope believes his teammates have what it takes to trouble the history books. “It is definitely a goal we can try to achieve at some point,” he said.
“Definitely it would be great to be the first team to cross that 500 mark and I am sure we have the batting firepower to do it.”
With three tons and two half-centuries under his belt since March, Hope, 25, finds himself in fine fettle heading into this week’s curtain raiser.
Key to that sharp upturn in fortunes has been a change in mindset that has allowed the wicket-keeper batsman the flexibility to adapt to any environment in which he finds himself. “I would say my mindset has changed slightly,” he added. “I haven’t really changed too much in terms of my preparation, how I go about things. But, as I said it is about adapting to the style of play, the style of cricket in these times and finding ways to score runs, finding ways to be as consistent as I can be.”
Ranked eighth in the world heading into their tournament opener against Pakistan on Friday, West Indies start as outsiders to lift the World Cup. But in Russell, Holder’s men have one of limited-overs cricket’s true match-winners – something that is not lost on his teammate. “He (Russell) is just incredible - a freak of nature really,” Hope said. “I don’t really know what to say about Russ, he just hits it and once he hits it, it goes for six.
“He is a pleasure to be on the same team as him, I can tell you that.
“If you are on the field you are not sure what you are going to bowl at him. It is just nice to enjoy from the inside!”