If there was one West Indian batsman who couldn't have been under scrutiny heading into the World Cup it was Shai Hope. The elegant batsman had nearly double the number of runs than the next best West Indian batsman after the Champions Trophy and was their saviour in a faltering batting line-up.
In 41 ODIs after the Champions Trophy and before World Cup 2019, Hope had made 1804 runs at an average of 54.6 with five tons and nine half-centuries. The next best, Chris Gayle, had just 930 runs in this time period. Clearly, Hope was West Indies' biggest hope heading into the World Cup.
But as the tournament draws to a close for the Windies, Hope's returns will be a major talking point. He finished off the World Cup with 77 in 92 balls against Afghanistan at Leeds on Thursday from the number 3 position. It was his third half-century in nine matches in the World Cup. He had earlier made 96 against Bangladesh and prior to that 68 against Australia.
Sandwiched between some of these knocks are five scores less than 12. In six out of eight innings he batted, Hope came at the no 3 position. His favoured position, though, is at the top of the order. Opening the batting, Hope has made four hundreds in ODIs. The other two have come from the middle-order but he clearly has a better record opening than in the middle order.
In the 11 times he has opened, Hope averages 78.18 and has made seven scores of 50 or more. He also strikes at an impressive rate of 92.47. The strike rate in particular is notable. When he comes behind the openers at no 3, Hope strikes at a pretty poor rate of 69.98. The strike rate is in the 60s from any position in the middle-order.
He finishes the World Cup as West Indies' third highest run scorer with 274 runs at an average of 34.25 and a strike rate just above 70. Interestingly, aside from Gayle, who averaged a decent 30-plus in the World Cup, none of the other West Indian openers - Evin Lewis and Sunil Ambris - averaged over 30. There was every reason for West Indies to push Hope to the top but they did not do so and paid the price.
Inconsistent returns will, however, bother Hope. The stylish right-hander is among the most consistent of batsmen in the last few months in ODIs and would have expected to have a better World Cup. After an underwhelming show from the middle-order, Hope and West Indies will probably realise that he is best suited to open the innings.