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Is there any Hope for Shai?

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After a magnificent knock of 147 in the first innings that helped West Indies avoid what seemed like an inevitable follow-on, Shai Hope struck an unbeaten 118 in the second innings to guide his team to a famous victory at Headingly in 2017.

The visitors chased down 322, the fourth-highest final innings score in a winning cause in England and also the fourth-highest run chase in Tests in West Indies history. Hope seemed like he would live up to his name and be the next great West Indies batsman -- The successor to Brian Lara and Shivnarine Chanderpaul. Fast forward three years later and that hope has seemingly faded away.

Since the start of 2018, Hope has batted 32 times for the West Indies in Tests and scored just 607 runs at an abysmal average of 18.97. He’s struck just two half-centuries and has failed to reach triple figures even once in the past three years.

After scores of 16, 9, 25 and 7 in the first two Tests against England, rumours swirled that Hope might be dropped for the series decider against the hosts. However, the 26-year-old retained his place but did not do much justice to his selection, with scores of 17 and 31.

His form is as bad as it could possibly be, but his talent is unquestionable. Since those twin tons at Headingly, Hope has scored eight centuries in ODIs and has been outscored by only two batsmen - Indian skipper Virat Kohli and opener Rohit Sharma.

Hope is 12th in the ICC’s ODI batting rankings, just five points off the top 10. He’s clearly more comfortable in white-ball cricket than he is in Tests. In fact, his best score of 31 in the England series came off just 38 balls, illustrating that he’s far more comfortable going after a bowling attack rather than hanging back and applying himself, as is the norm in Tests.

Perhaps a more ruthless approach that is closer to his natural game will help him get over this slump. However, if his hopeless form persists, the West Indies might have to ponder playing Hope-less going forward.

Feature image courtesy: AFP / Michael Steele

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