Shai Hope played another classy knock but this time it was in vain as West Indies went down to Afghanistan by 29 runs in a series-decider on Sunday night to hand the hosts a 2-1 victory in the three-match T20 International Series.
In the winner-takes-all final contest of the series at the Ekana Cricket Stadium, Hope’s 52 off 46 balls was topped by a blazing 79 off 52 balls from Rahmanullah Gurbaz which made the difference on the night. The attacking opener made hit six fours and five sixes as the Afghans posted 156-8 off 20 overs.
West Indies were kept in the hunt by an equally attractive half century by Hope – who faced 46 balls and hit three boundaries and a six but he fell at a crucial stage in the 19th over – caught at cover as he tried to go over the top – and the hopes of victory faded at that stage. The visitors eventually mustered 127-7 off their 20 overs, after being at one stage 80-3 in the 12th over.
Hope was not originally in the squad for this series, but was called up on the day of the match as cover for Denesh Ramdin, who was unable to participate due to a left hamstring injury.
In the first half of the match West Indies got two early wickets in the powerplay as Sheldon Cottrell rocked the innings – left-hander Hazratullah Zazi well caught by Evin Lewis and then Karim Janat was taken behind by keeper Hope.
Rahmanullah then shared a crucial third wicket stand of 50 with veteran Asghar Afghan – who made 24 off 20 balls – before he was caught at midwicket trying to hook a bouncer from Keemo Paul (2-21).
Kesrick Williams bowled well at the end of the innings to finish with 2-31 off his four overs. This completed a successful return to international cricket for the seamer as he ended as the leading wicket-taker with eight wickets for 71 runs off 12 overs.