Gros Islet, St Lucia – The West Indies bounced back nicely after their shocking defeat in the opening game to claim a four-wicket win over Afghanistan in the second ODI at the Beausejour cricket ground in St Lucia Sunday night.
The fast bowlers held sway on a quick pitch and Afghanistan batsmen had no answers for them, succumbing in the 38th over of the innings for just 135.
West Indies then got to their target despite another brilliant bowling performance from teenage sensation Rashid Khan and took the win by four wickets. After openers Evin Lewis and Keiran Powell had blasted 40 runs for the opening wicket, the Afghans fought back through their main weapon in Khan.
He sent back Powell in his first over and would go on to grab three wickets to add to the seven he got in the first game.
However, he had right hander Shai Hope to contend with and the Barbadian won the battle, scoring an unbeaten 48 of 77 balls with three fours to see his team home. Fans at the ground looked despondent after the home team slipped to 72 for four but Roston Chase and skipper Jason Holder partnered Hope to take West Indies home.
After the win, Holder said: “Good to get over the line, but still a few areas to improve on. I could not ask any more from the bowlers. We need to be more selective with the strokeplay, though.
“One thing we spoke about from the last game is to be more aggressive and make them uncomfortable. We have to find better ways to play them (Rashid and Nabi). I don’t think they are unplayable.”
The decider will be played tomorrow also at the Beausejour. Earlier, the West Indies team showed up a determined bunch and reaped the rewards. Ridiculed and laughed at after their opening loss to the minnows, the players were determine to show that there was a big gulf between the two teams.
Afghanistan won the toss and took first strike, a decision they must have regretted before the end of the first power play, as they lost four wickets in the space of 13 runs, to the fast bowlers Shannon Gabriel and Jason Holder, to stutter to 34/4. One wicket during that period fell via the run out route and that was the scalp of first match top scorer Javed Ahmadi, who got just nine.
The West Indies quicks were aggressive and used short-pitched bowling to good effect, which thrilled the Sunday afternoon crowd.
The Afghan batsmen, most of them on the short side, got ‘throat balls’ which they did not negotiate well and this led to a steady stream of batsmen to and from the pavilion.
Half the side was down before 50 runs were on the board as the West Indies kept up the pressure.
At 6/51, the end looked near but Gulbadin Naib was able to eke out 84 runs before the final four wickets fell, as Afghanistan finally fell for 135. Naib was the last man out for 51 runs from 72 balls with two fours and two sixes.
Using a strong bottom hand he struck the ball cleanly and 36 of his runs came on the onside. Gabriel ended with 2/25, Holder 2/38, Nurse 2/33 and Alzari Joseph 2/15.