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West Indies complete clean sweep at Lucknow

 

A fine century from Shai Hope took West Indies to a 3-0 series win in the ODI leg of the series against Afghanistan at the Ekana Cricket Association Stadium in Lucknow. 

 

Chasing 250 to win, the Windies got off to a poor start with Mujeeb Ur Rahman striking twice in one over with the new ball. Evin Lewis was the first to go as Mujeeb went wide from around the wicket and bowled the carrom ball to trap the clueless West Indian in front. 

 

In a mirror-image of that dismissal, new batsman Shimron Hetmyer perished to a similar delivery from the mystery spinner. Mujeeb’s carrom ball was skidding through and turning pretty well under lights and the task appeared near-impossible for the Windies at this stage. 

 

Shai Hope and debutant Brandon King, fresh off a sensational season in the Caribbean Premier League, resurrected the West Indies innings with a solid partnership. Just as the stand was gaining momentum, Rashid Khan, in his first over, knocked back King’s off-pole with a well-disguised googly. 

 

Second ODI’s Player of the Match, Nicholas Pooran, joined Hope and another fruitful partnership blossomed between the two. As has been the case through the series, West Indies let go of a chance to seal the game with that stand. Pooran stepped out and aimlessly wafted Sharafuddin Ashraf down the throat of long-on. 

 

Kieron Pollard then brought himself on ahead of Roston Chase, a pre-planned move as Chase would later reveal in the post-match presentation ceremony. 

 

Roston Chase at the post-match presentation ceremony – “Skipper told me last night we’ll bat in a different position, but he said, ‘Don’t worry. Just concentrate on your bowling, and if you get a chance to bat, show that.’ Hope said, ‘Ros, just take over and play at a run-a-ball.’ I did that, and put away the boundary balls.” 

 

Pollard seemed to be struggling against Rashid’s googly but amidst the whole confusion, he started teeing off against Ashraf’s darters from the other end. What was turning out to be a good cameo from Pollard came to an end as he chipped Mohammad Nabi straight to mid-wicket.

 

Roston Chase and Hope then went about trickling runs and finding the odd boundary in a frustrating partnership for Afghanistan. They remained unseparated till the end with Hope completing a seventh ODI ton and Chase ending on 42 off 32 balls. 

 

Earlier in the day, West Indies opted to bowl first and had to face a belligerent Hazratullah Zazai early on. The Afghanistan opener got off to a quick fire start even as West Indies found breakthroughs from the other end. 

 

Zazai, though, couldn’t carry on and perished attempting a horrible shot soon after crossing his half-century. Keemo Paul was the pick of West Indies’ bowlers as he snared three upfront on his comeback game to reduce Afghanistan to 116/5. Roston Chase drove the final nail in Afghanistan’s start by sending back the well-set Najibullah Zadran for 30.

 

They appeared to be languishing towards a below par total when Asghar Afghan and Mohammad Nabi joined hands. In a fantastic 127-run partnership, Nabi and Afghan went about dismantling West Indies’ attack. The latter went on to strike with aplomb in the death overs and after the 40-over mark, made 50 in 29 balls. The last 10 overs yielded 87 for Afghanistan, but ultimately it proved to be less than enough. 

 

Rohit Sankar is a freelance cricket journalist stuck in a love-hate live-in relationship with the game. To rile him up, mention the 1999 World Cup semi-final. Rohit has been writing about cricket for well over 10 years now, and has written for a variety of news and sports outlets over this time.

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