ESPNcricinfo – BASSETERRE, St Kitts, – A hare-brained approach with the bat ended
Afghanistan’s record 11-match winning streak and sent them tumbling to a six-wicket loss in the series opener against West Indies at Warner Park. After choosing to bat first on a slightly two-paced surface, Afghanistan threw their bats at the ball and threw their wickets away. They were reduced to 58 for 8 by the 14th over, and were staring at their lowest total in T20 internationals. Rashid Khan, coming off a productive maiden IPL stint with Sunrisers Hyderabad, and Amir Hamza, however, unleashed some late blows, which dragged the side to 110.
Afghanistan had defended a similar low total against West Indies in the World T20 in India last year – which marked the beginning of their golden run – and more recently in the tour match against West Indies Cricket Board President’s XI on Tuesday. But Samuels’ stylish 35 ensured the hosts cantered home with 21 balls to spare.
Batting like millionaires, collapsing his paupers
Gulbadin Naib started the innings with a violent triptych off fast bowler James Taylor: a flick over square leg, a pull over the same region, and a swipe over midwicket. The other five balls he played out were all dots, including a non-turning legbreak from Samuel Badree, which pinned him leg-before. His boundary-or-nothing innings, perhaps, was a sign of things to follow.
Naib’s opening partner, Usman Ghani, was the victim of a farcical mix-up, where he and Asghar Stanikzai were at the strikers’ end. Four balls later, the Afghanistan captain pulled hard at a sharp bouncer, and only spliced a return catch. The visitors, though, kept swinging like millionaires. Karim Jant dared to back away outside leg and slap Badree through the covers for four. A wild leg-side mow at Carlos Brathwaite, though, resulted in a top edge to Chadwick Walton, the wicketkeeper. Forty-two for 4 became 46 for 5 when Nabi recklessly slashed a catch to third man, instead of attempting to rebuild the innings. Sunil Narine’s triple-strike then left Afghanistan in serious danger of being dismissed for their lowest total in T20Is. They had been skittled for 72 against Bangladesh in the 2014 World T20.
Rashid and Hamza then knocked the balls along the ground as Afghanistan recalibrated their strategy towards lasting 20 overs. Badree, Brathwaite, and Taylor were all milked for ones and twos. The two spinners later cut loose in the last two overs of the innings, which yielded 32 runs. The highlights included a flat-batted swat over long-off and a short-arm jab over wide long-on. On another night, such an onslaught could have saved the day for Afghanistan. Yesterday, it only helped them save face.
West Indies made a good start to their response with Evin Lewis 26 and Chadwick Walton 22 making a good start but the loss of a few wickets including both openers and Samuels (35) did not stop their chase as Jason Mohammed not out 18 and Rovman Powell not out 2 saw them home.
The teams collide again today for the second match in St Kitts.
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