An incredible bowling performance from pacer Karim Janat finally helped Afghanistan end their losing streak and pull one back in the T20I series against West Indies. Afghanistan were bang on target right from the start while defending a modest 147 and never allowed their opponents to settle down, eventually sealing a convincing 41-run win.
AFGHANISTAN VS WEST INDIES IN INDIA, 2019
Janat picked up 5 for 11 as West Indies fell short by 41 runs in chase of 147. © AFP
Naveen-ul-Haq helped Afghanistan make the perfect start when he castled Brandon King for a 14-ball 12. Naveen used his variations to perfection and King failed to notice the slower delivery, with the ball eventually knocking the stumps. By the end of the powerplay, a cautious West Indies had only 29 with Evin Lewis surviving a close appeal for leg-before-wicket in the process. However, Afghanistan had the rub of the green shortly with Janat picking up his first wicket with a delivery that was well pitched outside leg.
The lack of DRS had Shimron Hetmyer make the long walk back to the pavilion. The telling blow then came in the tenth over of the chase when Janat picked two wickets in three deliveries. Lewis failed to spot the change in pace and mistimed a short ball outside off to be caught by Ibrahim Zadran and then Sherfane Rutherford edged one behind to the keeper to depart for a 11-ball six. Suddenly, the West Indies were four down and needed 102 runs off the final ten overs.
Kieron Pollard opened his account with a boundary off Rashid Khan but the skipper fell to Janat in the very next over. The pacer followed Pollard’s own technique and bowled wide of the crease to trap the batsman lbw. The procession continued with Jason Holder getting stumped in his attempt to up the ante and by the end of the 15th over, the result was a foregone conclusion. Janat eventually picked up his maiden five-wicket haul when Keemo Paul inside-edged one on to his stumps as Afghanistan completed the formalities.
Earlier in the evening, in their bid to overturn their fortunes, Afghanistan made a great start with the bat as openers Hazratullah Zazai and Rahmanullah Gurbaz fetched boundaries in the powerplay. Zazai, in fact, hit a six off the very first ball of the innings and took 16 runs in total from Holder’s over. They were well-placed after four overs having scored 41 already before the slide began. Kesrick Williams was the wrecker-in-chief as he got rid of Gurbaz and Zazai off successive deliveries. The rebuilding phase didn’t last long with Asghar Afghan being sent back as a result of a stunning catch by Denesh Ramdin, who dived to his left to gift Holder his first wicket.
Janat fetched three fours off a Hayden Walsh over to break the shackles but he perished soon after as West Indies continued to remain on top of the contest. Mohammad Nabi’s wicket then brought Najibullah Zadran and Gulbadin Naib out to the middle and the pair added 44 runs off 32 deliveries to help their side post a decent total on the board. With no demons on the pitch and dew being a major factor, West Indies were expected to wrap this up and clinch the series 2-0 but Janat’s grand day with the ball ensured they were never in the reckoning.
Brief scores: Afghanistan 147/7 in 20 overs (Hazratullah Zazai 26; Kesrick Williams 3-23, Jason Holder 2-23) beat West Indies 106/8 in 20 overs (Denesh Ramdin 24; Karim Janat 5-11) by 41 runs