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Shai Hope looks to maintain form against Ireland

By Barbados Today

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Shai Hope doing wicket-keeping drills under lights. Photo Credit: CWI Media/Philip Spooner

(BARBADOS TODAY) — Shai Hope says he is under no pressure to replicate his heavy run-scoring of the last calendar year, and will continue to focus on his role in the team in order to transform West Indies into a formidable unit.

The elegant right-hander plundered 1345 runs in 2019 at an average of 61 with four hundreds, to be among the top three run-scorers in the world in One-Day Internationals.

He will be back in action on Tuesday when West Indies take on Ireland in the first ODI of a three-match series at Kensington Oval.

“Pressure is a strange word but it’s about understanding what you need to do,” Hope said on the first day of training in preparation for the Ireland series.

“And as long as you put in the preparation and believe in yourself – believe in what you’ve been doing – the rest takes care of itself. It’s not about putting pressure on yourself, it’s about understanding what you need to do.

“As an athlete and as a sportsperson you know that everyday can’t be your day but as long as you give your all then you have to be happy with that.”

The 26-year-old has emerged as the batting leader of the Windies ODI squad and was key to several of their successes over the last year.

In a side replete with power-hitters, Hope has been the ideal counter, proving to be the anchor of the innings with an unflappable temperament and selective stroke-making.

“It’s about being adaptable. I believe that adaptability is the biggest thing in cricket, especially when you’re playing [different] formats,” Hope pointed out.

“The key is knowing your role in the team and knowing how it affects your batting partners, so the key is about standing your role. I think everyone in the team is starting to understand their role and it’s making our batting performances a lot more successful and consistent.”

With Hope at the forefront, West Indies pushed India in the three-match ODI series last December before going down 2-1, to extend their near two-decade losing streak on the subcontinent.

It was his unbeaten hundred in the series opener in Chennai which helped the Caribbean side take a 1-0 lead but knocks of 78 and 42 in the remaining matches failed to prevent defeats.

Hope, who averages nearly 53 from 72 ODIs with eight career hundreds, said it was important to continue the improvement in the upcoming series against the Irish.

“[It’s] about improvement. Obviously you want to score more runs as a batsman but the key is about gaining things, adding things to your game and improving as a cricketer,” Hope explained.

“So hopefully I can continue the form I’ve been having recently and pile on more runs.”

He added: “I was just pleased to get the successes [last year] and contribute to team wins. The key is to continue what I’ve been doing over the last year and trying to improve and gain experience.”

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