After running India and Pakistan close with their bowling prowess, Afghanistan pulled off their best batting performance against Windies at the Headingley. The Gulbadin Naib-led unit notched their highest World Cup score of 288, but couldn’t evade a 23-run defeat. The Afghans played much better than the points table will suggest. For the Caribbean side, it got home the consolation win after a rather abysmal outing in the mega event.
Windies haven’t chased well and hence, it wasn’t a surprise that they elected to bat first. The start wasn’t good for them as Chris Gayle, playing his last World Cup game, got out for seven to Dawlat Zadran. Evin Lewis (58) and Shai Hope (77) steadied the ship and added 78 runs for the second wicket. Rashid Khan nipped out Lewis with a half-tracker to separate the duo. Shimron Hetmyer (39) joined Hope and carried on the good work.
The pair added 65 runs after which Dawlat Zadran bounced out Hetmyer. To add to Windies’ agony, Mohammad Nabi removed Hope and all off a sudden, they had two new batsmen- Nicholas Pooran (58) and Jason Holder (45)- in the middle. However, they didn’t allow the pressure to mount and stitched together a stand of 105 runs off 69 deliveries. Their onslaught helped the Caribbean team notch a significant 311 for six in the 50 overs.
Afghanistan ends World Cup winless
The Afghans didn’t start well as Gulbadin Naib perished to an ugly hoick off Kemar Roach. Thereafter, Rahmat Shah (62) and Ikram Ali Khil (86) built some momentum with a priceless 133-run stand, though the required rate kept climbing. At the age of 18, Khil became the youngest wicketkeeper with a World Cup fifty. Carlos Brathwaite nipped out Shah to give Windies a breather. Khil was looking good for a ton before Gayle trapped him in front.
Mohammad Nabi gave Roach his second wicket in the quest to up the ante. Roach got rid of the in-form Samiullah Shinwari as well. Asghar Afghan tried his heart out with a 32-ball 40 after which Carlos Brathwaite removed him. In the last five overs, the Caribbeans needed 57 runs but had only three wickets in hand. Brathwaite got rid of Rashid and Dawlat to pick up a four-wicket haul and carved the triumph for Holder’s men.
Shai Hope, the Player of the Match, stated
It’s important we got that score on the board. It’s not where we would’ve liked it to be but it’s a learning experience and lot to learn from this. It’s nice to finish on a high and hopefully I can carry on this form for the next series as well.
Jason Holder, the Windies captain, stated
It’s good to get over the line. We’ve had some close encounters in this World Cup. So it’s really good to finish with a win. Obviously batters stepped up today. Evin and Shai got a good partnership going. At the back end, myself and Pooran were able to finish well. 300 was a par score I felt on that pitch. They had a good partnership but we stayed strong and came through in the end.
Gulbadin Naib, the Afghanistan captain, stated
Definitely a good score. At one point, we looked comfortable at the wicket. Khil and Rahmat played really well. In the end, chasing 300-plus isn’t that easy. So I am really happy with the fight. Khil is an U19 boy, he looked his class today. Not just him, we have a lot of young talent back home as well. If we can groom them well, it will be nice for us. I learnt a lot in this tournament. Fitness is an issue for us, boys are struggling and it’s something we need to work on. Also need to handle the pressure moments more. We need to keep working on bettering our skills.