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England’s hopes of a bright new dawn got off to a false start in Antigua as Shai Hope and Romario Shepherd powered the West Indies to a four-wicket victory in the series-opening ODI.
Following a meek World Cup, England are at the start of a new era and they amassed 325 all out but Jos Buttler made his fifth single-figure score in eight ODIs after being dismissed for three off 13 balls.
It looked to be enough as the Windies lurched to 213 for five in the 39th over but Hope’s unbeaten 109 off 83 balls and a punchy 48 from 28 deliveries from Shepherd underpinned a remarkable home triumph.
Hope’s three sixes in four balls off the expensive Sam Curran, who leaked 98 in 9.5 wicketless overs, helped the Windies get over the line with seven balls to spare as they drew first blood in the series.
There were positives for an England side who had six individuals in their XI who were out in India as Harry Brook top-scored with 71 off 72 balls while Phil Salt amassed 45 off 28 balls while Curran (38 off 26) and Brydon Carse (31no off 21) put on a lifted England beyond 300 after a middle-order wobble.
Rehan Ahmed was the pick of England’s attack but they were unable to pin down a side who failed to qualify for the World Cup, while Buttler’s form is an increasing concern and his run of innings with an ODI fifty stretched to 13 innings.
England started well as Salt crunched eight boundaries off fast bowlers Alzarri Joseph and Shepherd but a turbocharged innings ended in tame fashion, vindicating the decision to introduce Gudakesh Motie’s left-arm spin after six overs.
Backing away to leg, Salt’s cut looped to the cover fielder to end a 77-run stand, while Will Jacks was gone for 26 in the next over after Joseph extracted extra bounce and found the outside edge.
Shai Hope helped West Indies to victory
Zak Crawley consolidated, initially alongside Test opening partner Ben Duckett then Brook, all of whom were watchful early on as the pitch started to become more unpredictable. Put down twice in the 30s, Crawley got to 48 when he set off for a single only to be left high and dry by Brook and run out.
Brook took 12 singles from his first 18 deliveries before reverse sweeping to the boundary while he accelerated after Buttler’s downfall with dismissive sixes off Shepherd and leg-spinner Yannic Cariah.
Liam Livingstone briefly got in on the act with back-to-back sixes in a Cariah over yielding 23 but the all-rounder and Brook were out in successive Shepherd overs. Livingstone was lbw to a delivery that kept low and Brook slapped a pace-off ball to mid-off, having added one run after being dropped on 70.
At 239 for seven with nine overs left, England were grateful for their lower order adding 86, underpinned by Curran and Carse putting on a belligerent 66 in just 38 balls. The pair each cleared the rope twice while Ahmed chipped in with a maximum as England’s innings ended with a flourish.
The hosts had only chased down 300-plus totals three times in ODIs but their attempt to overhaul the highest 50-over total at this venue began brightly courtesy of the highly rated Alick Athanaze.
The left-hander, leading run-scorer at the 2018 Under-19 World Cup, feasted on Curran’s waywardness, hooking a six in the first over before ending the powerplay with a mighty mow off Gus Atkinson.
Brandon King was less fluent but put on 104 alongside Athanaze before Ahmed prised the pair apart. Athanaze missed a sweep at a googly and was given leg-before for 66 while Livingstone breached the defences of King on 35 eight balls later as England’s spinners gave them a foothold.
Keacy Carty made just 16 in a 39-ball stay before he was trapped in front by Carse’s grubber and the run-rate was steadily escalating when Shimron Hetmyer walked to the crease.
Both Hetmyer and ODI debutant Sherfane Rutherford were caught on the boundary off Atkinson and Ahmed respectively as the Windies went into the last 10 overs requiring 106 runs for victory.
Hope was the wicket England prized most, though. A standout ODI talent, he went effortlessly through the gears, rotating the strike well while he also thumped the only six Ahmed conceded in his 10-1-40-2.
He went past 5,000 ODI runs before, with 90 needed off 48 balls, Shepherd went on the attack to Curran, muscling two leg-side sixes in an over containing 19 runs.
The 45th over, also bowled by Curran, went for 15 and the 47th by Carse was taken for 17 as Hope and Shepherd turned the tide. While Atkinson took out Shepherd lbw, Curran was powerless to stop Hope repeatedly hammering him over the rope as the Windies claimed victory.
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