WEST INDIES One-day International (ODI) captain Shai Hope says his team will be taking a positive mindset into the final match of the three-game series versus England at Kensington Oval, Barbados on Saturday, following a heavy six-wicket loss in the second ODI on Wednesday.
The Windies were bundled out for just 202 inside 40 overs after being sent in to have first strike at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in Antigua. The visitors stormed to victory with 17.1 overs to spare with both Will Jacks (73 off 72 balls) and captain Jos Buttler (58 not out off 45 balls) registering half-centuries.
After his unbeaten century anchored the WI to their second-highest successful run chase in ODIs on Sunday, a below-par batting display in the second ODI saw England levelling the series in comprehensive fashion.
"We did not start as well as we should have with the bat. We put ourselves under a bit of pressure there but I must also take the positives from the game," Hope said in Wednesday's post-match ceremony.
"We did not finish well. We did not play the situation smart enough. I think that caused our downfall in the batting."
WI were reduced to 23 for four by the end of the seventh over, as man-of-the-match winner Sam Curran (three for 33) ripped through the home team's top order in the first power play with his pace and swing bowling. Hope (68 off 68 balls) and Sherfane Rutherford (63 off 80 balls) repaired the damage in the middle order with a 129-run partnership for the fifth wicket. Hope was fluent and graceful as usual as he notched his 25th ODI fifty. Rutherford curtailed his aggressive nature and played a steady hand before he became the first of Liam Livingstone's three scalps – going for a big cover drive in the 30th over.
Hope said he was seeing growth in the 25-year-old Rutherford, who was playing his second ODI.
"Sherfane has been doing it for quite some time now in regional (cricket). He is maturing as a batter," Hope said. "Everybody knows he can strike the ball, but seeing him play the way he is playing now is very pleasing for us and I am sure he could continue like this. We can get a lot more consistent performances from Sherfane."
West Indies' middle and lower-order crumbled as the remaining wickets were taken for just 50 runs.
Defending a score of 202 was always going to be an uphill task for the Windies, but Hope gave credit to his bowlers' fight in the circumstances. England raced to 50 inside the first six overs before Phil Salt (21 off 15 balls) was bowled by Romario Shepherd (one for 27). Zak Crawley and Ben Duckett both fell to Gudakesh Motie for three, while Jacks was dismissed by Rutherford after playing his part in the England chase. Buttler and Harry Brook (43 not out off 49 balls) saw England to victory with an unbeaten 90-run partnership.
"It is a bit difficult for the spinners to grip the ball but they still tried their best. I saw the belief in both (Motie and Yannic Cariah) and I must commend their efforts. There were not too many runs on the board to defend so it was tough going for them."
Going into the decisive ODI on home soil in Barbados, Hope says only one thing is on his mind.
"It is obvious. We have to win the game to win the series. We need to do more planning and more preparation and we have to be ready for the next game coming."
From 1.30 pm on Saturday, the prolific Hope will aim to lead the Caribbean team to a series triumph.