The ODI leg of the West Indies tour to India began on celebratory note for the visitors as West Indies outclassed India by 8 wickets at Chennai and the man who was at the top of his mark was the 22-year old wonder kid from Guyana, Shimron Hetmyer. The attacking southpaw compiled a magnificent 106-ball 139 with 11 boundaries and 7 sixes to bring up his highest ODI score and his 5th ODI ton. This was also the highest run-chase at the Chepauk.
Brushing the loss of the T20 series aside, West Indies emerged to be a completely different outfit hardly getting any of their calls wrong. And Hetmyer was at the forefront of it taking Indian bowlers to the cleaners, Jadeja in particular. He deposited the left-arm spinner into the stands off consecutive deliveries in the 22nd over. And while a 289-run target didn’t complicate the run chase at all, the left-hander ensured that West Indies stayed ahead in the chase. Such was his dominance that it allowed his partner Shai Hope to play at a strike rate of around 80. Not really something that has much place in ODI cricket these days but Hetmyer gave him the cushion to do that.
On a pitch that was sluggish and had the Indian batsmen asking questions, he adapted to it like nobody else. Walking in to bat in the 5th over, he drove, cut and pulled with ease and used the crease to perfection, knowing when to go forward and when to sit back. He kept the scoreboard ticking and by the time he departed, the run rate had been brought down under 6 in the 39th over.
Predominantly a player in the T20 mould, he has played knocks that outweigh his maturity. This is what impressed Ian Bishop the most and he was quick to point that out on air. Even skipper Kieron Pollard voiced his support for the enterprising batsman at the post-match presentation.
By his own admission, he loves to go after the ball as hard as he can. That’s what brought the best out of him, mixing caution with aggression and the right amount of intent. He made the writing clear on the wall. Hetymer has made rapid strides in international cricket lately, and is still a work in progress. However, he has already played one of the best ODI innings in a chase against India. And with the IPL auctions just around the corner, he has just offered the franchises a trailer of what to expect in the shorter format.
The men from the Caribbean play an entertaining brand of cricket and this little fellow is on the right path taking it forward. The tone for the series has been set, and it is by none other than the West Indian star of the future, Shimron Hetmyer.