Afghanistan v West Indies: Teenager Rahmanullah Gurbaz powers Afghanistan to series win

Adithya Sundar 21:46 17/11/2019
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Image - ACB/Twitter

With a T20 performance that was quintessentially Afghansitan, Rashid Khan’s troops won the final game by 29 runs at Lucknow to claim the T20I series.

Electing to bat, Afghanistan posted 156 in their 20 overs and defended it with aplomb.

West Indies struggled against Afghanistan’s effective slow bowling which was backed by some industrious fielding, as well.

The Asian team managed to hit eight sixes, while the visitors could muster only one. The men from the Caribbean conceded 11 extras to the five bowled by the Afghans – it was these differences that saw Afghanistan claim the win.

Teenager Gurbaz steals the show

Image- Twitter

Image- Twitter

Afghanistan’s top-order has been lackluster on this entire tour and they were off to a poor start once again in this game, losing 2 wickets for 39 runs in the power play. Sheldon Cottrell removed both Hazratullah Zazai and all-rounder Karim Janat cheaply in successive overs.

Rahmanullah Gurbaz, 17, who is touted to be his nation’s AB De Villiers for being able to play shots all around the park, lit up  the game with his extraordinary batting.

Undaunted by the struggle of the batsmen at the other end, the wicket-keeper batsman kept the run-rate steady with his big-hitting. His 52-ball-79 included five sixes and six boundaries.

He scored more than half the runs for his team as he announced his arrival to international cricket with this crucial knock.

The West Indies pacers were poor too, conceding as many as 11 wides in the innings. While Keemo Paul was the pick of the bowlers as he accounted for two wickets, left-arm spinner Khary Pierre impressed with his accurate and economical bowling.

Afghan slow bowlers leave the batsmen in a spin

Chasing 156, the Windies top-order was strangled by a magical spell from finger-spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman.

He bowled a three-over spell in the power play, conceding just nine runs and picking up the wicket of Lendl Simmons.

The batsmen struggled  on a slow surface with the ball stopping on them and the Afghanistan bowlers thrived in these conditions. Their medium pacers Naveen-ul-Haq and Karim Janat bowled their cutters away from the swinging arc of the big-hitters and the spinners too varied their pace constantly.

Rashid Khan got through his spell quickly in the middle overs as he finished with figures of one for 18, dismissing Shimron Hetmeyer.

Shai Hope once again took up the responsibility of anchoring the innings, but his fighting half-century wasn’t enough as the rest of the batting just didn’t get going. Once Hope fell in the penultimate over, the writing was on the wall for the Windies.

West Indies won the ODI series comprehensively and Afghanistan did well to come back after losing the opening game and win the T20I series. The two teams will play a one-off Test on November 27 to close out the tour.

Brief Scores:

Afghanistan – 156/8 (Rahmanullah Gurbaz 79; Paul 2-26)

West Indies – 127/7 (Hope 52; Naveen-ul-Haq 2-20)

Player of the Series – Karim Janat (28runs and six wickets)

Player of the Match – Rahmanullah Gurbaz

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