The last Test to be played in India during 2019 will not involve the top-ranked Test team as Afghanistan take on West Indies at Lucknow.
The five-day game will mark the end of the tour after the Windies claimed the ODI series and lost the T20I series. This Test match will not be a part of the ongoing ICC Test Championship.
Afghanistan is the only team other than India to have a 100-per-cent record in Tests this year, winning both the matches they played in 2019. Jason Holder’s West Indies started 2019 with a bang, beating England twice before losing three home Tests in a row.
Trial by spin
Afghanistan’s spinners did manage to tie down the Caribbean stroke makers in the limited-overs leg of the tour.
While the Windies had enough time to untangle themselves to claim the wins in ODIs, in the shortest format they couldn’t hit their way out against the wily spinners.
In a practice game between the two teams last week, left-arm spinners picked up 11 wickets as both teams were bowled out for less than 200 before recovering in the second innings.
Mohammad Nabi has announced his retirement and Mujeed Ur Rahman isn’t considered for Tests. However, Afghanistan have a glut of slower bowlers in Nasir Jamal, Zahir Khan, Hamza Hotak, Qais Ahmed and of course, their captain Rashid Khan.
This will be Rashid’s second Test as captain after he bagged the Player the of Match in his maiden game as skipper against Bangladesh earlier this year.
In the opposite camp, there are only three fingers spinners- slow left-arm bowler Jomel Warrican and off-spinners Roston Chase and Rakheem Cornwall.
West Indies’ grafters hold the key
Shai Hope, Kraigg Brathwaite and Roston Chase are the three batsman in the West Indies line-up capable of blunting a bowling attack.
While Jason Holder too is a more than capable batsman, he bats further down and could run out of partners. Hope and Brathwaite at the top of the order need to display patience and provide solidity for the batters around them for their team to combat the Afghanistan spinners.
Roston Chase scored a century against England back home earlier this year, while Holder’s stunning double ton off just 229 deliveries against England has been one of the best knocks of the year.
The Test match starts at 08:00 (UAE) at Lucknow on Wednesday.
Afghanistan: Rashid Khan (c), Asghar Afghan, Ihsanullah Janat, Ibrahim Zadran, Javed Ahmadi, Rahmat Shah, Karim Janat, Qais Ahmed, Ikram Alikhiel (wk), Afsar Zazai, Nasir Jamal, Zahir Khan, Yamin Ahmadzai, Hamza Hotak, Nijat Masood.
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