Afghanistan 212 for 6 (Ahmadi 82, Nurse 2-34) beat West Indies 149 (Rashid 7-18) by 63 runs
Afghanistan had won on four previous occasions when Rashid Khan had picked up four wickets or more. But Friday brought him one of his tougher challenges: he had only 212 to defend on a sluggish St Lucia surface but that only seemed to spur him on. The 18-year old legspinner finished with 7 for 18 – the fourth-best haul in ODI history – and West Indies were bowled out for 149.
The 63-run victory for Afghanistan, their first in this format over a Full Member other than Zimbabwe or Bangladesh, exposed the ineptness of a West Indies unit struggling in their quest to qualify directly for the 2019 World Cup.
Rashid, introduced in the 23rd over with West Indies seemingly steady at 68 for 2, broke open the game by picking up wickets off his first two deliveries. And if that isn’t impressive enough, he struck on consecutive balls in the 25th as well to be on a hat-trick twice during the course of his first two overs, opening his spell with figures of 4 for 1. The lone run conceded came courtesy of a dubious wide call in which a googly spun in from outside leg stump to strike Jonathan Carter’s back leg after a missed sweep before ricocheting to fine leg.
Jason Mohammed played for a straight ball when there was turn, debutant Roston Chase fell for a golden duck, completely deceived by a googly, Shai Hope was snaffled courtesy Mohammad Nabi’s brilliance at slip and Jason Holder’s defence was breached by a ripping wrong ‘un. At 70 for 6, West Indies were railroaded, having to switch back to survival mode.
That didn’t prevent Ashley Nurse from trying ungainly slogs and was quickly shown his place by a skiddy googly that gave Rashid his second five-for in ODIs. The upset was sealed in the 45th over, fittingly with another Rashid googly, as Afghanistan added to the shockwaves that rocked the cricket world this night. After all, it was only a few hours previously that another underdog, Bangladesh, had stunned New Zealand in the Champions Trophy.
While Rashid walked away with the plaudits – among bowlers with at least 50 wickets, he has the best bowling average (15.05) and strike-rate (22.3) – it was opener Javed Ahmadi quietly worked his way through to make 81, his highest ODI score, to set the game up. He showed the resolve to fight through testing spells from Shannon Gabriel and Miguel Cummins and, given he had to face a lot of short-pitched bowling, he also showed that he was particularly strong square of the wicket. Forty of his runs, including four fours and a six, came behind point.
Ahmadi built the platform in a slow, but assured, second-wicket stand of 55 with Rahmat Shah, before West Indies hit back with two quick strikes. They went into a shell against Nurse, who used the strong breeze to drift the ball away from the right-handers. He took out Asghar Stanikzai, who played for turn when there was none, and Samiullah Shenwari, who was unfortunately given out as the ball lobbed to slip off his forearm while trying to reverse sweep.
With Afghanistan at 131 for 5 in the 38th over, and Ahmadi back in the pavilion as well, West Indies had a firm grip over the contest. But Gulbadin Naib used his muscle to pepper the legside boundary and take apart Jason Holder, who conceded 36 off his last three overs. Naib would hammer three fours and two sixes in his unbeaten 28-ball 41. The 58-run stand for the eighth wicket with Mohammad Nabi, who quietly finished 27 not out, would signal the change in momentum for Afghanistan.
West Indies would have hoped for a brisk start from their batsmen but it was not to be and by being diffident and overcautious, they played themselves into a situation where one costly lapse could trigger an alarming slide. And slide they did.