It’s always nice chasing a score : Hetmyer

Chennai: Shimron Hetmyer’s career-best 139 coupled with a calm and composed century from Shai Hope spelt doom for India as West Indies won the first One-Day International against India, by six wickets here at the MA Chidambaram Stadium, Sunday.

In what can be described as the coming of age batting display by West Indies, chasing a target of 288 on a slow surface and losing a wicket very early, Hope and Hetmyer stitched together a mammoth 218 run partnership for the second wicket, taking the game completely away from the hosts.

Asking India to bat first after winning the toss, s India shrugged off a poor start as they lost opener K L Rahul (6) and skipper Virat Kohli (4) in the seventh over of the innings. Rohit Sharma too failed to get going as the home team appeared to be in a spot of bother at 80 for three in the 19th over.

However, Pant joined Shreyas Iyer and the young duo shared a 114-run fourth-wicket partnership. Pant scored his maiden ODI half-century while Shreyas Iyer hit his fourth consecutive ODI half-century in their process to resurrect the innings. Especially Pant showed a lot of maturities, taking time to settle and going hard at the bowlers only after assessing the conditions. Both the batsmen perished after scoring 70 and 71 respectively. Jadeja and Jadhav then joined hands for a crucial 59-run stand for the sixth wicket helping India post 287 on the board.

Indian bowlers, however, could not contain Shai Hope and Hetmyer despite removing opener Sunil Ambris early. Hetmyer smashed a career-best 139, while Hope scored his second consecutive ton and eighth of his career to take West Indies home comfortably. Throughout that partnership, while Shai Hope was holding up one end, Hetmyer took the mantle as the aggressor striking at more than a run a ball.

Speaking about the gameplan between them, the man of the match said, “We just kept things simple. We have played with each other for quite a while now. So, I know his game and he knows mine. When we’re batting together, most of the time, I’m the aggressor and he’s the person who sticks around and bats. It’s always nice to bat with someone like him.”

When India batted first, the pitch appeared to be on the slower side but Hetmyer, who struck at a strike rate of 131 said the pitch wasn’t really slow. “There wasn’t really much slowness for me. There was dew as well, which is always a factor batting second in India. The ball didn’t really stop as much, it just stuck in the pitch a little bit when the seamers bowled cutters.”

Hetmyer also said that he would rate this innings as his best as he has notched up his higest score in ODIs. “This is my highest score in international cricket, so this would be the best one. It’s always nice chasing a score than a setting one. Chasing and taking the team home is a much better feeling. Sad that I didn’t finish the game, but it’s a work in progress for me.”

Hetmyer will be under the hammer in the upcoming IPL auction after being released by Royal Challengers Bangalore. Given that he didn’t have a good outing, asked whether he wanted to prove a point in India with this series, he said, ‘I always try to enjoy my batting as much as possible. It’s cricket, sometimes you score runs and sometimes you don’t. Didn’t have the best IPL (2019 season), it’s a nice experience, it always helps you to come back much stronger from there. I just try as much as possible to put that behind me.” The second ODI will be played at
Vishakapatnam, 18 December.

Aaditya Anand M