As woeful Windies wobble to 63-run defeat
By Sean Devers in St Lucia
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A courageous 81 from 102 balls with eight fours and two sixes from 25-year-old opener
Javed Ahmadi and mesmerizing spell of leg-spin bowling from teenager Rashid Khan provided Afghanistan a historic 63-run victory over West Indies in first ODI last night at the Darren Sammy Cricket Ground to give the visitors, ranked below the host, a 1-nil lead in the 3-match series.
Afghanistan, in their first ODI against West Indies, were led by Ahmadi’s effort and recovered from a slow start to reach 212-6 from 50 overs.
Gulbadin Naib struck a 28-ball 41 with three fours and two sixes and along with Mohammad Nabi with a 30-ball 27 with two fours shared in an unfinished 48-ball 58-run seventh wicket stand.
Off-spinner Ashley Nurse (2-34) bowled well for West Indies who were befuddled by the 18-year-old Khan who captured a career best 7-18 (his second five-wicket haul in ODIs) and collapsed for 149 from 44.4 overs as they failed to win their fifth consecutive ODI at this venue. Shai Hope top scored with 35, while Alazzrai Joseph made 27.
Set 213 to win, the host stared in horrendous fashion when Kieran Powell (2) was lbw to the lively Dawlat Zadran at 3-1, while off-spinner Nabi shared the new ball with him.
An uppish drive from Evin Lewis went between the point and cover and Zadran held his head in anguish before an imperious punch by Shai Hope off Naib reached the cover boundary like a bullet. Afghanistan were sharp in the field and made the batsmen work hard for their runs and after 10 overs the score was 23-1.
Lewis scored 21 from 47 balls before he was taken at deep cover playing a needless aerial shot and Naib had struck at 41-2.
Jason Mohammed joined Hope knowing that with Khan still to bowl it would not be a walk in the park for the West Indies. Mohammad (4) was given a reprieve when the TV replay overturned a caught behind verdict a he cut at Nabi at 52-2 in the 20th over.
Controlled bowling ensured that just a single boundary was hit in the first 21 overs before Hope dumped Shenwari for six to break the shackles.
Mystery spinner Khan, who play for the Amazon Warriors in the 2017 CPL, had Mohammed (7) caught at first slip off his first ball before debutant Roston Chase played back to a Googlie next ball and was LBW and Khan was on a hat-trick as two wickets fell at 68 in the 23rd over which was a maiden.
Khan struck again in his next over when Hope (35 from 63 balls) edged to slip as West Indies slipped to 70-5. Things got progressively worse as Holder was bowled first ball as Khan was again on a hat-trick. A confident appeal off the hat-trick ball was turned down when Nurse missed a big sweep.
Nurse swung Nabi for four before he missed a sweep at Khan and was LBW at 90-7 to give Khan his second five-wicket haul. West Indies passed the 98 they made against Pakistan in Guyana in 2013 as the 100 came up in 32 overs.
Jonathon Carter and Joseph inspired hopes of a miracle with a fighting 45-run eighth wicket stand before Carter (19) pulled Dawlat to deep square-leg and Joseph (27) fell to Khan as he bettered his previous best of 6-34.
And when Cummins (5) was bowled by Khan it was all over as West Indies sunk to an all time low.
Earlier, the 28th ODI at this venue commenced in overcast conditions with a strong wind blowing across the sward, Afghanistan opted to bat on a hard track with plenty of grass and a large, lush green and sluggish outfield.
West Indies left out Guyanese leg-spinner Devendra Bishoo and Jamaican Rovman Powell from their X1 and the new ball pair of Gabriel and Skipper Holder both extracted pace and bounce in the opening overs.
Watched by a small crowd, including a raucous group which traveled from Trinidad on Thursday, Ahmadi and Noor Ali Zadran were kept on the back foot by short, lifting deliveries.
Zadran (5) was well taken by Hope above his head at first slip as Holder made the breakthrough at 13-1.
Ramat Shaw joined Ahmadi and the batsmen looked uncomfortable against the disconcerting bounce, but when Holder bowled too short and wide Ahmadi executed a dismissive cut for the game’s first boundary in the eight over.
Cummins was introduced in the ninth over and greeted Ahmadi with one that reared at him like an angry ‘pit bull’ as he fended off from his neck and after 10 overs the Afghans had crawled to 24-1.
On a track with tested the batmen’s technique to the lifting deliveries, the visitors were kept on a tight leash and found free scoring a difficult task but Joseph replaced Holder and strayed on Shaw’s pads and was tickled for four. Ahmadi pivoted and hooked Joseph for four to move into the 20s and when Cummins pitched up Shaw stroked him elegantly past cover for a couple of runs.
Ahmadi, growing in confidence as his innings progressed, eased Joseph to the cover boundary and cut Holder over point for another four to post the 50 in the 17th over as ‘operation rebuild’ began to take shape.
A six over long-on by Ahmadi off Joseph brought up the 50 stand off 93 balls and Nurse was brought on after 21 overs in conditions which remained more like England where the ICC Champions Trophy is being played resulting in the lights being turned on at 16:05hrs.
When on 17 and the partnership worth 55, Shaw was removed by Gabriel to bring Skipper Asghar Stanikzai to join Ahmadi who was there from start and had weathered the storm of being peppered with bouncers from the inception.
The right-hander, showing good temperament, soon became the first Afghanistan batsman to get an ODI fifty against West Indies when he clobbered Nurse for four to reach his sixth ODI half-century from 71 balls with five fours and a six.
He celebrated by slashing Gabriel over third man for six but Stanikzai (2) was trapped LBW to Nurse at 87-3 before a boundary off Cummins took Ahmadi to 63.
When the ball was pitched up Ahmadi demonstrated his elegant front foot shots, while Samiullah Shenwari got going with a thumping straight drive off Nurse which raced to the ropes despite the slowness of the outfield due to heavy overnight rain.
The 100 came up in 28 overs and Ahmadi cut Cummins for four, while Shenwari smashed Nurse over extra cover for six before Cummins induced Ahmadi to edge to the Keeper at 131-4 in the 37th over.
His demise ended a promising 44-run partnership but the lads from war-torn Afghanistan, the 41st largest Country in world with 33 million people, added 72 in the last 10 overs as Naib and Nabi counterattacked to ensure this was their most productive period. It was enough in the end.
The next match, another day/night affair, is set for tomorrow at the same venue from 14:30hrs.
Scores: Afghanistan 212 for 6 (Ahmadi 82, Nurse 2-34) beat West Indies 149 (Rashid 7-18) by 63 runs.
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