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Windies pacers scar Afghanistan to level the series at St Lucia

Asghar Stanikzai’s men folded for a mere 135 in the first innings and it was mere formalities for the Windies batsmen to get to the total with 10 overs to spare.

Afghanistan
Dawlat Zadran of Afghanistan watch as Shai Hope and Jason Holder of West Indies celebrate victory. (Photo by RANDY BROOKS/AFP/Getty Images)

Afghanistan were on the brink of a historic and memorable series victory over the West Indies, after having convincingly won the first ODI in St Lucia. The hosts’ Windies, however, came back with a thumping victory to level the series, thus stalling Afghanistan’s possible moment of glory to the third and final one-dayer. Asghar Stanikzai’s men folded for a mere 135 in the first innings. Despite a phase of ripping googlies and leg breaks by Rashid Khan, it was mere formalities for the Windies batsmen to get to the total with 10 overs to spare.

Windies pacers strike

Stanikzai’s unchanged XI elected to bat first, and the Darren Sammy National Cricket Stadium witnessed action straightaway. A shy at the stumps which could have sent the non-striker packing, followed by an excellent dive and pick-up to throw the stumps down – all happened in the second over of the innings. Within the powerplay, there were edges, fours, deliveries seaming back sharply, and a maiden over. Jason Holder drew first blood for the Windies by dismissing Noor Ali for a sluggish 8 runs. Ali lobbed a return catch after failing to evade a well-directed short ball.

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The final ball of the same over witnessed a run-out as comical as the Miller-du Plessis mix-up in the Champions Trophy – both batsmen were at the striker’s end. Thus began the inevitable collapse for the visitors. Rahmat Shah succumbed to yet another short delivery, and Shenwari was wrongly given out LBW. The lack of DRS in the series forced Shenwari to make the long walk back no questions asked.

Gulbadin Naib provides resistance

The experience of Mohammad Nabi didn’t help Afghanistan’s cause as they were staring down the barrel at 52/6. Gulbadin Naib then put in a singular effort to resist the fall of wickets with a brilliant half-century. He was ably assisted by wicketkeeper Afsar Zazai, who scored a mere 9 runs but stuck around for 34 balls.

As wickets tumbled at the other end, Naib was forced to try something different. A pre-meditated shot cost him his wicket and brought an end to Afghanistan’s innings. The Windies quicks had attacked in unison to bounce as many as five Afghan batsmen out. Their target was a meagre 136.

The hosts came out to bat with a positive intent and comfortably scored 37 runs in the first six overs. Rashid Khan was then introduced into the attack and made an impact straightaway. Afghanistan had a sniff of victory when the Windies found themselves at 72/4.

However, the cool and composed Shai Hope ensured the match didn’t slip away entirely from the hands of the hosts. Despite another couple of dismissals, he stood his ground to score a steady 48 to guide his team over the finish line. The series was thus squared at 1-1, but Afghanistan still have a chance of defeating a Test-playing nation and registering a monumental series win in the third ODI.

Brief Scores

Afghanistan: 135 all out in 37.3 overs (Gulbadin Naib 51; Shanon Gabriel 2/25)

Windies: 138/6 in 39.2 overs (Shai Hope 48*; Rashid Khan 3/26)

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