Hope steers West Indies to series lead against England with 16th ODI ton

Shai Hope’s sublime century led West Indies to a stunning four-wicket win over England in the first one-day international in Antigua.

Hope smashed 109 not out from just 83 balls as the hosts chased down 326 to win with seven balls to spare.

Needing 106 from the last 10 overs with five wickets left, captain Hope was supported by Romario Shepherd’s 48 from 28 balls.

Hope then finished the chase in style with three sixes in the 49th over, bringing up his 16th ODI ton with the winning six.

England were firm favourites at the halfway stage on a tricky pitch that was offering uneven bounce and turn for the spinners.

Romario Shepherd struck some lusty blows to swing the match in West Indies favour (Photo: Getty Images)

In their first outing since a disappointing group-stage exit at the World Cup, England started emphatically after winning the toss as openers Phil Salt and Will Jacks blitzed an opening stand of 77 in just 8.2 overs.

They somewhat squandered the positive start, however, with all of the top five reaching at least 20, but only Harry Brook able to kick on past a half-century with 71 from 72 balls.

Late cameos from Sam Curran and Brydon Carse, with an eighth-wicket stand of 66, propelled the score past 300.

A West Indies victory looked even more unlikely when they lost both openers in successive overs after a promising 104-run opening stand, exposing an inexperienced middle-order.

But Hope timed his knock to perfection, biding his time alongside the aggression of Shepherd and Shimron Hetmyer, who made 32, before accelerating in the death overs once both had departed – taking a particular liking to Curran, who finished with 0-98.

West Indies may not have started their innings as dramatically as England, but their openers fulfilled their roles perfectly with a steady platform, with stylish left-hander Alick Athanaze’s 66 from 65 balls thwarting the new-ball pair of Curran and Gus Atkinson.

Curran never found rhythm, constantly gifting bad balls away, but Atkinson, who performed admirably in the World Cup and here with 2-62, was the best seamer on display.

Alick Athanaze struck a breezy fifty to give West Indies a solid start (Photo: Getty Images)

Rehan Ahmed, the natural successor to leg-spinner Adil Rashid, continued to impress with 2-40 on a pitch that gave him plenty of assistance, as it did for Livingstone with 1-50.

Buttler’s decision-making was perplexing, persisting with the pace of Curran and Carse and opting not to utilise Will Jacks’ off-spin, despite the pitch obviously assisting slower bowling.

Despite the question marks surrounding England’s bowling attack – and it is worth noting that it is an inexperienced one – Hope’s magnificence should not be discredited.

At 213-5 with 12 overs remaining, England were in apparent control.

But Hope was unfazed by the mounting run-rate, knowing he had the swashbuckling Shepherd for company.

Shepherd struck three sixes and Hope seven as they surged home in style, with the 30-year-old captain taking his ODI average to an incredible 51.52 with his 16th century.

Given the fact that so many of West Indies’ stars were absent – the likes of Kyle Mayers, Nicholas Pooran, Jason Holder and Andre Russell choosing the Abu Dhabi T10 tournament instead of this series – guiding his young team to victory must have tasted even sweeter.

The three-match ODI series continues at the same venue on Wednesday. (BBC)