Twice in two games now, Afghanistan have threatened to rewrite their lowest total in Twenty20 International history – 72 against Bangladesh in 2014 – and avoided the ignominy thanks only to some lower-order resistance that, if anything, served only to underscore the apathy of their top-order batting. Afghanistan made 110 yesterday, today they could muster only 93 in a chase of 123 from 15 overs, thereby conceding the three-match series after their chastening 29-run defeat.
For a long time in Basseterre, it appeared as if West Indies would need a third game to effectively slam the door shut on the series as a thunderstorm lashed Warner Park with West Indies positioned at 79 for 2 after 11 overs. Play resumed two hours laterwith the hosts left with only four overs to add to their total. Marlon Samuels hit a straight six off Gulbadin Naib before falling after another patchy innings of 22. Chadwick Walton’s fast start (29 off 17) and a late flourish from Lendl Simmons (17 off 14) meant West Indies got to 112 in 15 overs, a total that was further calibrated as per the DLS rules requiring Afghanistan to score 123.
Notwithstanding their advantage of playing with a target, Afghanistan’s batters turned in another dire performance that saw them slip to 55 for 8 by the 11th over. If it was Sunil Narine in game one, it was seamer Keserick Williams (3 for 11) that inflicted the bulk of the damage. After being hit for four off his first delivery, Williams hit back to dismiss Noor Ali and Samiullah Shenwari off successive pacy deliveries. Noor Ali was done in by a sharp bouncer and only succeeded in edging a pull to short fine leg while Shenwari edged his first delivery to the keeper.
Afghanistan, who’d also lost Naib earlier, never recovered from the twim blows until Karim Janat added a face-saving 20 off 15 at the end. But by then, the chase had been dead and buried. Afghanistan didn’t help matters one bit with their shoddy judgement of singles. Mohammad Nabi wandered off aimlessly after playing a Narine delivery to short fine leg. Shafiqullah was then involved in a horrible mix-up with Janat, necessitating the third umpire’s intervention to find out which of the two batsmen was to be given the marching orders. Between all of this, Carlos Brathwaite chipped in with the wickets of Asghar Stanikzai and Najibullah Zadran.
When the ordeal ended about20 minutes later, Stanikzai could merely reflect on what had been a steep learning curve for his relatively inexperienced side. “Yeah, it is disappointing. Target wasn’t very big. This is a good experience playing against West Indies as they are a champion team. We’ll try to play well in the next game. Unfortunately, we lost the game,” he said.
Brief scores: West Indies 112/3 in 15 overs (Chadwick Walton 29, Evin Lewis 25; Gulbadin Nain 1-10) beat Afghanistan 93 in 13.3 overs (Karim Janat 20; Kesrick Williams 3-11) by 29 runs [D/L/S Method]