In a bug-infested atmosphere in Lucknow on Saturday, West Indies completed a 47-run win over Afghanistan in the second ODI to go 2-0 up in the three-match series. The series win is West Indies’ first in ODIs since 2014 with their last win coming against Bangladesh.
Put in to bat by Rashid Khan, West Indies’ openers, Shai Hope and Evin Lewis, stitched together a fine partnership of 98 before Rashid Khan brought himself on to create the much-needed breakthrough. One wicket brought another as Hope was soon followed by Lewis, who played all over Javed Ahmadi’s slider.
The Afghan spinners applied the choke in the middle overs as West Indies struggled to put together enough partnerships. Shimron Hetmyer got them going with a decent start but he tried one shot too many and perished in the process. With Roston Chase, Kieron Pollard and Jason Holder all falling in quick succession, West Indies appeared to be headed nowhere.
At 182/6 in 43 overs, the innings had lost direction but Nicholas Pooran had other ideas. The left-hander plundered Afghanistan’s death bowlers to all corners of the Ekana Cricket Stadium in Lucknow. His half-century – the third in his ODI career – came off 38 balls and he finished on 67 off 50 balls to take West Indies to a daunting total of 247 on a slow wicket.
86 runs came off the last 10 overs as West Indies came back from the dead to challenge Afghanistan’s might.
Afghanistan’s run-chase was pegged back very early as they lost Javed Ahmadi in the very first over. Hazratullah Zazai and Rahmat Shah broke the shackles with a few big hits, the former being very lucky to escape with some daring pull shots that found the toe end of the bat. He was put down once and another pull was top-edged over the slip cordon for four.
Just as it seemed like the partnership would give Afghanistan momentum, Rahmat was run-out to some heedless running between the wickets. Zazai followed soon after with an ill-timed shot as he attempted to go after Chase twice in a row, the first of which cleared the ropes.
Asghar Afghan followed soon after as did Ikram Ali Khil with Chase completing a three-wicket haul. It appeared as though we were in for an early finish when Najibullah Zadran and Mohammad Nabi joined hands. The two experienced batsmen took no undue risks and kept the scoreboard ticking with the odd boundary coming every other over.
With the fifty partnership coming up, West Indies appeared clearly flustered. The required run-rate had come down to run-a-ball and Afghanistan seemed well set to take the game deep. However, disappointingly, Zadran was dismissed by Sheldon Cottrell soon after he completed his half-century.
In an inspired move, West Indies skipper Kieron Pollard then threw the ball to Caribbean Premier League hero, Hayden Walsh, who had earlier coped some stick. Off the very next ball after Zadran’s wicket – Walsh’s first ball in his comeback spell – Nabi fell leg before wicket for 32. The two well-set batsmen dismissed, West Indies went on to mop up Afghanistan’s tail.
Cottrell and Walsh, aside from Chase, also picked up three wickets apiece as West Indies romped home by 47 runs. Despite what the scoreboard suggests, it was no one-sided contest and Afghanistan had their moments to steal the game from under West Indies’ noses. But frequent loss of wickets and the lack of one big performance from an individual ultimately cost them.
The teams regroup for the final ODI at the same venue on Monday.
Scores: West Indies 247 for 9 (Pooran 67, Naveen-ul-Haq 3-60) beat Afghanistan 200 (Najibullah 56, Cottrell 3/29, Chase 3/30) by 47 runs
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