West Indies' tie against Zimbabwe in Bulawayo took some of the gloss off what was otherwise an adventurous maiden hundred by West Indies batsman Shai Hope. Playing his second ODI, Hope marshalled West Indies' chase along with Kraigg Brathwaite, the pair putting on 162 for the third wicket, and reached his ton with a whip through midwicket off the second ball of the 45thover. But two deliveries later a wild swipe resulted in an edge through to the wicketkeeper, opening a window for Zimbabwe to claw their way back into the game.
"[Getting the hundred was] a good feeling, but it would be even better with a win," Hope said. "That's the main thing: it's about winning games. So the hundred doesn't really mean much right now because we didn't win."
Hope, who also kept wicket today, was at the crease as early as the 12th over in West Indies' chase after Johnson Charles and Evin Lewis fell in the teens. "It's a bit tough [keeping wicket and batting up the order], especially if the team loses quick wickets at the beginning," Hope said. "But it's about transferring the effort of your wicketkeeping into your batting, and keeping your team on top of things."
After a period of consolidation, during which both batsmen survived confident appeals at the hands of Zimbabwe's spinners, Hope broke the shackles with 10 runs from consecutive long hops in the 20th over. Thereafter, he was soon outscoring Brathwaite, and rode his luck as West Indies sought to press home their advantage.
In the 32nd over, he was caught by Donald Tiripano at long-on, but the fielder stepped on the boundary rope while completing the catch. Three overs later, he slapped a full toss straight to Sikandar Raza but the chance was dropped. In the 39th over, a top-edged slog once again evaded Raza, running towards long-off from cover.
Those errors aside, Hope and Brathwaite appeared to be in control, with the latter focusing his efforts on turning the strike over to his more aggressive partner. "We were trying to put the bad balls away, capitalising on those ones and rotating the strike," Hope said. "We wanted to take it as deep as possible and finish off the game, but it was unfortunate we couldn't get that done today."
West Indies were 220 for 3 when Hope fell, and still appeared to be on course in their chase. Yet five more wickets fell in the next five overs, and with three needed from five balls in the last over, Carlos Brathwaite swatted a Tiripano legcutter to Sean Williams at long-on to set in motion Zimbabwe's unlikely comeback.
"There's always nerves, especially in games like this. But I must say it was a bit disappointing not to cross the line. That's the game of cricket. Sometimes it can go both ways. On another day, that ball Carlos hit would have gone for six. Today he lost his wicket. It's just about being more aware. It didn't happen for us today."