Deadline: November 16, 2019 at 7 PM IST
Venue: Bharat Ratna Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee International Cricket Stadium, Lucknow
The selectors deserve a lot of credit for producing quality cricket.
The pitch used in the ODIs created problems as well as gave moments of relief to both batsmen and bowlers.
The pitch that is being used for the T20Is cannot be any better. Afghanistan bowled first and could understand the pitch only in the death, letting West Indian batsmen off the hook. Kieron Pollard’s men learned from the opposition’s mistake. They mixed up their pace and smothered Afghanistan with variations.
Probable XI for Afghanistan: Hazratullah Zazai, Rahmanullah Gurbaz (wk), Ibrahim Zadran, Asghar Afghan, Najibullah Zadran, Mohammad Nabi, Gulbadin Naib, Rashid Khan (c), Fareed Malik, Naveen-ul-Haq, Mujeeb Ur Rahman
Probable XI for West Indies: Brandon King, Evin Lewis, Shimron Hetmyer, Denesh Ramdin (wk), Kieron Pollard (c), Sherfane Rutherford, Fabian Allen, Jason Holder, Kesrick Williams, Sheldon Cottrell, Hayden Walsh
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Wicketkeepers: Denesh Ramdin
Batsmen: Hazratullah Zazai, Asghar Afghan, Evin Lewis (vc), Brandon King
All-rounders: Kieron Pollard (c), Mohammad Nabi, Gulbadin Naib
Bowlers: Rashid Khan, Kesrick Williams, Hayden Walsh
The approach from West Indies and Afghanistan were similar but the latter failed to execute it.
Evin Lewis found it difficult to go bonkers right away, especially after Brandon King walked back early. Lewis managed a mere 1 off 8 until then. He took his time, waiting for Mujeeb Ur Rahman to go off the attack. Whatever was on Lewis’ mind paid off. He blasted 59 off his next 23 deliveries including a 16-run over from Mujeeb’s second spell.
Hazratullah Zazai, who has the second-highest T20I score to his name, tried to pursue the same game plan. It did not work and he ended up amassing runs with a strike rate of 79. Afghanistan needed one batsman to bat through, but West Indies were too good with the ball, so much so that Kieron Pollard did not even have to use Fabian Allen’s slow left-arm orthodox.
At the toss, Rashid Khan said that T20 is their favourite format. Their recent record has been phenomenal and thus expecting them to stage a comeback after a 0-3 drubbing in the ODIs was fair and square. However, they did not look any better. They failed to click as a team and faced fourth consecutive defeat in the series.
Players to watch out for
Kieron Pollard decided to roll his arm over after a long time, and it was worth doing so. He ended up with bowling figures of 2 for 17 – both wickets were of Afghanistan’s top scorers. Before that, he had built on Evin Lewis’ foundation and remained unbeaten on 32 off 22 – 10 of which came from the last two deliveries of the innings. Leading from the front in true sense of the idiom.
Evin Lewis was unable to provide a good start in the ODIs, but on Thursday, he took the crease with a different approach. He knew if he bats long, the run rate will scale up. Despite a slow start, he managed 68 off 41 including 6 sixes.
Kesrick Williams was the pick of the bowlers, taking 3 wickets for a meagre 17 runs. He has been a sensation in the CPL and is well on course on creating an encore at the international level.
Asghar Afghan was the highest run-scorer for Afghanistan in ODIs. He looked good for a match-winning innings, but that was that. He only looked good and never capitalised on a fluent start.
Afghanistan: Hazratullah Zazai, Asghar Afghan, Ibrahim Zadran, Najibullah Zadran, Javed Ahmadi, Gulbadin Naib, Mohammad Nabi, Sharafuddin Ashraf, Rahmanullah Gurbaz (wk), Rashid Khan (c), Karin Janat, Fareed Malik, Yamin Ahmadzai, Naveen-ul-Haq, Sayed Shirzad, Mujeeb Ur Rahman
West Indies: Evin Lewis, Brandon King, Shimron Hetmyer, Lendl Simmons, Kieron Pollard (c), Sherfane Rutherford, Fabian Allen, Kesrick Williams, Jason Holder, Denesh Ramdin (wk), Hayden Walsh, Khary Pierre, Sheldon Cottrell, Alzarri Joseph