Windies plan to fight fire with fire, says upbeat Hope

By CMC

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West Indies stroke-maker Shai Hope.

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Feb 16, CMC – With the odds yet again firmly stacked against West Indies in the upcoming One-Day International series, marquee batsman Shai Hope says the Caribbean are bracing for a strong challenge from England but also plan to counter with firepower of their own.

West Indies are ranked ninth in the ICC one-day rankings and face a number one-ranked England side, already pencilled in as firm favourites to win the World Cup at home later this year.

However, Hope said while the Windies were cognisant of the challenge, they were not intimidated and would be looking to spring a surprise, similar to what occurred in the preceding three-Test series.

“We’re an international team, we’ve come here to play cricket and we just view it as a challenge. We know they’re going to come at us hard and we’ve got to do the same – fight fire with fire,” Hope said here Saturday.

“It’s a lot to look forward to, very exciting times especially leading up to the World Cup so I’m sure the guys are ready and raring to go. We’re just coming off a Test series win so it’s important for us to continue in that vein and try to get the series win as well.”

He added: “We can use this as a good gauge for us going into the World Cup. We’re still looking at some plans [in terms of] what is the best fit and [team] combination but it’s a good challenge for us and we’ve got some work to do.”

The two teams clash in the opening ODI at Kensington Oval here, with the hosts seeking their first series win over their opponents in 12 years.

They will be motivated by their performance in the Test series, however, where they tore up the form books to crush the English in the opening two Tests, and regain the Wisden Trophy or the first time in a decade.

“We will use it as a motivator,” said Hope, who has emerged as the side’s leading ODI batsman in recent times with an average of 47.

“We knew what they (pundits) were saying about us and we’ve got to do the same [as we did in the Test series] – make sure that we know we’re coming here to play cricket and put up a fight. And it’s just not to put up a fight either but to win so we’ve got to make sure we do that.”

Hope was outstanding in the last ODI series in Bangladesh last December, accumulating 297 runs and only being dismissed once.

His last two innings featured unbeaten hundreds but his 108 not out in the last ODI came in a losing cause, and Hope said while he hoped to be among the runs again, more importantly for him was helping West Indies win matches.

“I’m thinking runs. If I score 99 in every game, I’d be happy with that rather than a hundred and a zero … but definitely hundreds is something you want to score as a batter and big hundreds as well,” Hope said.

“[Winning hundreds] are the main things. It doesn’t make sense scoring a hundred and the team doesn’t win.”

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