Despite Guyanese all-rounder Romario Shepherd falling two runs short of his second One-Day International half-century, he believes his quick-fire 48 runs from 28 balls was one of his “best innings so far,” as it proved pivotal in guiding West Indies to a four-wicket win over England in the first of the three-match series at Sir Vivian Richards Ground in Antigua on Sunday.
Shepherd joined his skipper Shai Hope in the middle at a crucial point in the match, as the maroon were 213/5, needing 113 runs from 68 balls, to surpass England’s 325.
The pair, led by Hope’s captain’s knock of 109 not out – his 16th ODI century, went on to construct a well-worked 89-run partnership from 45 balls, that steered to hosts to a confidence-building triumph.
Hope struck seven sixes and four fours from 83 deliveries while Shepherd launched three maximums and hit four boundaries. The Barbados/Guyana combination steered West Indies within sight of victory, to 302/6 after 47.1 overs, needing just 24 runs from 17 balls.
When Shepherd perished on 48, lbw by fast bowler Gus Atkinson, newly-appointed vice-captain Alzarri Joseph (two not out) joined his skipper to take them over the line, with five balls to spare.
When asked about his innings, Shepherd was pleased his input played an important role in helping them to the win.
“Yes, I’m going to say it’s one of my best innings so far because we also won the game,” he said.
Shepherd praised his captain’s composure.
“We know the class of Shai Hope so today was just one of those innings that he normally plays for us. It’s good that he stayed there today and got the team over the line.”
When England batted first, their opening pair of Phil Salt (44) and Will Jacks (26) put on a good 77-run stand before the first wicket fell. At that point, Shepherd said, West Indies needed to be more aggressive.
“At the time definitely, I think we pulled back the game a lot because when we were looking at the start they (England) were looking at 400 (runs). So when we got to 326, coach (Daren Sammy) said that we’re going to get this because it’s a good batting wicket and we have some good batsmen in there.”
Looking ahead at Wednesday’s second ODI at the same venue, Shepherd wants the team to keep up their winning mentality as they seek to grab a series win.
“We must first be consistent because we have been scoring 300 (runs) here and there, but I think this bunch of guys are solid and we want to be consistent.
“We need to capitalise on these types of moments. We got to firstly win this three-match series, take what we did in this game into the next, and then into the last game,” he said.
The third and final ODI bowls off on Saturday in Bridgetown, Barbados and is followed by a five-match T20 series in Barbados, Grenada and Trinidad, that starts next Tuesday and ends on December 21.
Wednesday’s second ODI bowls off at 1.30pm (TT time).