A combined effort with both bat and ball helped West Indies beat Afghanistan by 23 runs at Headingley on July 4 (Thursday) and finish their 2019 World Cup campaign on a high. Afghanistan, on the other hand, return home with nine defeats in as many games.
Opting to bat, Evin Lewis (58 off 78 balls), Shai Hope (77 off 92 balls) and Nicholas Pooran (58 off 43 balls) cracked half-centuries while skipper Jason Holder chipped in with a 34-ball 45 to help West Indies post 311 for 6 in 50 overs.
In reply, Ikram Ali Khil (86) and Rahmat Shah (62) added 133 runs for the second wicket before West Indies bounced back with some quick wickets. Kemar Roach (3 for 37) and Carlos Brathwaite (4 for 63) shared seven wickets between them as Afghanistan were bowled out for 288 in 50 overs.
West Indies lost opener Chris Gayle (7) cheaply when the self-proclaimed ‘Universe Boss’ chased a full and wide delivery by Dawlat Zadran (2 for 73) only to give a simple catch to Ikram Ali Khil behind the stumps. Lewis and Hope then took control of the proceedings, taking West Indies past the 50-run mark in 11.5 overs. The duo kept the scoreboard ticking with some cautious batting as the Caribbean side touched the three-digit mark in 23.4 overs.
But just when the partnership looked settled, Rashid Khan came up with the breakthrough, dismissing Lewis in the 25th over. Lewis’ knock was studded with six boundaries and two hits into the stands.
Hope was then involved in a 65-run partnership with Shimron Hetmyer (39 off 31) before Dawlat struck again to peg back the latter. Hetmyer smashed three fours and couple of sixes before departing. Hope also fell soon as Mohammad Nabi accounted for his wicket to reduce West Indies to 192 for 4.
Pooran and Holder then took charge as they swiftly added 105 runs for the fifth wicket, propelling their team near the 300-run mark before they both fell off consecutive deliveries in the final over. Pooran’s knock was laced with six boundaries and a six while Holder clobbered one four and four sixes.
Brathwaite then hit a quickfire four-ball 14 as West Indies posted a challenging total. Afghanistan were terrible in the fielding department and dropped quite a few chances apart from mis-fielding on a few occasions.
Afghanistan lost Gulbadin Naib (7) very early in the innings but Rahmat and Ikram ensured there was no top-order collapse. The two started slowly but once they got settled, both Rahmat and Ikram started playing more freely. While Rahmat was more classical with his approach, Ikram played a couple of wild heaves. Just like Afghanistan, West Indies too were under-par in the field.
The duo didn’t allow Fabian Allen to settle in and forced Holder to switch to Brathwaite. The all-rounder was the one who finally broke that stand by having Rahmat, who hit 10 fours in his innings, caught at extra cover. However, Ikram kept going and found an able ally in Najibullah Zadran who picked up from where Rahmat left.
Najibullah went after Brathwaite and added 51 runs with Ikram. Things however started to turn in West Indies’ favour once Gayle came into the attack. The off-spinner got the key wicket of Ikram as he had him caught right in front of the stumps. Ikram missed a well-deserved century by 14 runs but Afghanistan have found someone who can bat up the order. Before the dust had settled, Najibullah was run out in the same over for 31.
Roach then returned to remove Nabi and Samiullah Shinwari in quick succession but Asghar Afghan (32-ball 40) kept Afghanistan in the game with some lusty blows. It was Brathwaite who put an end to Asghar and Afghanistan’s fightback as West Indies wrapped up the match with relative ease.
Sayed Shirzad (17-ball 25) entertained the crowd with some big hits but it was Allen who put the finishing touch by taking a stunning catch at the cover region, to seal the 23-run victory for West Indies.