New Delhi: Afghanistan rode on a valiant 68-run knock by Rahmat Shah and a fine display of spin bowling to beat two-time world Cup champions West Indies by 3 wickets in Super Six stage of the ICC World Cup qualifiers at Harare.
After losing two wickets early at the top, it was the three important stands of 66, 50 and 22 that pulled Afghnaistan to victory. Though, the script was similar in both innings with contributions from the middle-order, Afghanistan's effort proved to be a little better which took them towards an important win. Afghanistan collected their first win in the Super Six stage to keep their campaign alive. They will have to keep winning every game from here to strengthen their chances.
Afghanistan beat @westindies by 3 wickets in the first match of the super six stage in ICC World Cup Qualifier. @MujeebR99 was declared the player of the match for his amazing bowling today. #AFGvWI #CWCQ #RoadToCWC19 pic.twitter.com/EnMNVUQ5TJ
— Afghan Cricket Board (@ACBofficials) March 15, 2018
After the early stutter, Shah held fort and stitched an important 66-run stand with Samiullah Shenwari. The duo had laid a strong platform for Afghaistan but Shenwari's departure once again gave Windies a chance to bounce back.
Come the experienced Mohammad Nabi. Having played the leagues around the world, Nabi showed his batting talent and nudged his way to a 50-run stand alongside Rahamat.With that Afghnaistan in close range of distance but Shimron Hetmyer pulled off a stunning catch to dismiss Nabi at deep square leg. Afghanistan were 132/4 in the 36th over.
West Indies combined again to put the oposition under pressure as they conceded just 18 runs in the next five overs. Sensing an urge to accelarate the scoring, a set Shah then made his way back, leaving Afghnaistan in danger. Shah made 68 in 109 balls.
Thanks to small contributions with the bat from Rashid Khan, Najibullah Zadran at the lower order that staved off the danger and scaled the target with 14 balls to spare.
Earlier, Afghnaistan spinners namely Mujeeb Ur Rahman (3/33), Mohammad Nabi 2/43) paved the way for Afghanistan by bundling out Windies to a modest 198. Out of the eight wickets that fell in the Windies' innings, seven of them were snared by the spinners, ensuring crucial breakthroughs at regular intervals to halt a strong Windies line-up two runs short of 200.
With Chris Gayle getting out cheaply at the top, West Indies lost another two wickets at 53 until the 12th over and the middle-order was expected to stand tall. Expectedly, Marlon Samuels and Shai Hope played and stitched a stand of 55 to take Windies to 108 before Samuels made his walk back. Over-ambitious approach cost Windies at that juncture as he holed out in the deep. But skipper Jason Holder showed a lot of maturity and bided his time in the middle to take the score to 158 with a 50-run stand. Once again when Windies were in a strong piosition, they once again lost a wicket and were pushed on the backfoot. Holder too lost his wicket with a wild heave.
There was no fifty scored in the entire Windies innings and the reason was the irresponsible strokes that led to their downfall. In the end, a 28-run stand helped Windies crawl to 197. Credit to the Afghanistan spinners who held their own and stuck to the basics. They were economical in their spells and kept urging Windies to take risks.