An unbeaten century (109 runs off 83 balls) by Player of the Match (POTM) Shai Hope helped West Indies draw first blood as they defeated England by four wickets to claim the first ODI at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in North Sound in Antigua on Sunday, December 3.
Skipper Hope's hundred was studded with four fours and seven sixes and helped the Windies record their highest ODI chase in the Caribbean as they scaled 326 down with seven balls to spare. Allrounder Romario Shepherd had a pivotal role to play in the chase as he smashed a quickfire 48 off just 28 balls to bring the asking rate within achievable distance for the hosts.
Playing only his fifth ODI, opener Alick Athanaze stitched a 104-run stand in 17.3 overs with fellow opener Brandon King (35 off 44 balls) to get the Men in Maroon off to a dream start. Athanaze batted with a calm head to score 66 off 65 balls with the help of nine fours and two sixes.
Athanaze took the pressure off King, who was struggling to bring fluency in his demeanour during his stay in the middle. The duo immediately put pressure on the English bowlers and made them look fairly ordinary.
English skipper Jos Buttler was forced to take his pacers out of the attack - a strategic ploy that paid dividends as Rehan Ahmed put brakes on Athanaze and Liam Livingstone ended King's knock.
However, despite losing both openers in quick succession, the Windies skipper didn't let the pressure get to him and anchored the chase to perfection. He got the much-needed support from Shepherd as the star allrounder took the team out of a precarious situation.
With 113 needed off 68 balls at the fall of Sherfane Rutherford's wicket, West Indies were staring down the barrel and needed a whirlwind knock that came from Shepherd's bat.
Earlier in the day, the toss fell in the favour of England and Buttler decided to put runs on the board. All the English batters got starts barring the skipper but none of them managed to stay long enough in the middle to launch an onslaught. Harry Brook was the most impressive English batter as he scored 71 off 72 balls, including seven fours and two sixes.
Some lower-order flourish by Sam Curran (38 off 26) and Brydon Carse (31* off 21 balls) helped the Three Lions post the biggest total at the venue and had momentum on their side leading into the second innings.