SHAI Hope continued to show his intent to secure a West Indies (WI) team spot for the upcoming Test series against South Africa as he smashed an unbeaten 104 runs on day two of the intra-squad four-day practice match in St Lucia on Tuesday.
At the Daren Sammy Cricket Ground, Hope’s stellar second innings knock steered the WI Best ‘A’ team to a commanding 283-run lead against the ‘B’ team, who capitulated for 178 earlier in the day, in chase of the ‘A’ team’s first innings score of 264.
Hope hit nine fours and six sixes in 132 balls in his centurion knock and built a strong 63-run partnership (74 balls) with skipper Jermaine Blackwood (29 not out) to close the second day on 197/3.
In his first innings knock, the 27-year old right-handed batsman was also his team’s second-highest contributor with the bat (79 of 88 balls) with Blackwood (85) also falling short of a century.
After his unbeaten century on Tuesday, Hope said was happy to be back on the pitch scoring runs and is counting on his performances with the bat to seal a spot in the regional squad for the two-Test series (June 10-14 and June 18-22).
“It’s just nice to really to feel the ball coming off the middle of the bat in stages. I’m just happy to get those runs that I want in the red-ball format. Hopefully, I can continue that.
“Whenever and if I get the opportunity to play in the WI Test team, if it comes, I’m going to try to grasp it with both hands and try to score as many runs as I can,” Hope said.
The Bajan made his WI debut against England in 2015 and last played for the senior team against the same opponents in July last year.
He, however, is eager to make a return to Test cricket.
“Everyone is raring to get back out there especially after all the quarantining and all the (lockups) we had. I’m sure all the guys are willing to go out there and showcase their skills and talents.
“It’s been a while that we’ve been really given the opportunity to play. Everyone’s out there giving their all trying to make they can show the selectors what they have and hopefully it can continue for the rest of the game,” he added.
During his knock, Hope said he made a slight change in his game plan and was trying to play the ball with more intent, unsettle their bowling attack and place added pressure on them.
Heading into day three on Wednesday, Hope intends to bat on.
“The key is to make sure that I can stay within my game plan. The situation of the game would dictate how I play in certain passages. Hopefully, it works out in the future and I can continue this way and continue to score runs,” he said.
West Indies ‘B’ closed the opening day on 44/4 in response to the ‘A’ team’s 264 first innings score. The ‘B’ squad returned to the middle on day two but was soon whittled away for 178, falling 86 runs short of the target.
Top scoring for the ‘B’ team in their first innings chase was Raymond Reifer (60 not out) while Roston Chase (35) and Kieron Powell (22) were the only other two batsmen to get into double figures.
Guyanese pacer Nial Smith (3/35) was the pick of the ‘A’ team bowlers while Shannon Gabriel (2/16) and Keon Harding (2/61) bagged two-a-piece.
West Indies Best ‘A’ returned to the pitch on day two and will resume the penultimate day’s action with Hope and Blackwood at the crease. Blackwood’s unbeaten knock of 23 comprised two fours and one six in 34 balls.
Fellow opening batsman Darren Bravo scored 17 off 28 balls while Kavem Hodge was dismissed without scoring.
Jayden Searles was the pick of ‘B’ bowlers in the second innings as he bagged two for 28 from six overs. Chase (1/44) snagged the only other wicket.
Day-three action resumes at the Daren Sammy Cricket Ground from 9.30 am.
The West Indies intra-squad four-day practice match is being used as part of the squad’s preparations for the upcoming two-match Test series against South Africa which bowls off at the same venue from June 10.
WEST INDIES BEST A 264 – Jermaine Blackwood 85 & 23 not out, Shai Hope 79 and 104 not out; Kavem Hodge 37; Roston Chase 4/44, Chamar Holder 3/44, Jomel Warrican 2/35 vs WEST INDIES BEST B 178 – Raymond Reifer 60 not out, Roston Chase 35; Nial Smith Shannon Gabriel 2/16