Minnows Afghanistan completed the shock defeat of the tournament against group-toppers West Indies winning by six runs at Nagpur today. After Najibullah Zadran propelled them to a total of 123, the Afghans pulled off a stunning display on the field to sign off in style from the World T20 cup.
Chasing 124, West Indies debutant Evin Lewis had a miserable stay at the middle as he played out almost the entire first over. Johnson Charles, at the other end, was having a good time though as he carted Mohammad Nabi for two sixes in the second over. Lewis' ordeal came to an end when he skied Amir Hamza in the third over going for nought after facing seven balls.
Charles departed for 22 in the sixth
Samuels departed soon after to put the table-toppers in a tricky situation at 38/3 ( and Fletcher retired). After an uncomfortable stint for that short while, Samuels went after Rashid Khan in the first ball, but Rashid had the last laugh
Bravo and Ramdin set about stopping an unlikely defeat to the minnows but both fell in a span of ten runs at 79 and 89 and Afghanistan were suddenly looking at the shock defeat of the tournament. Andre Russell complicated matters going for a non-existent second
Brathwaite, however, brought the Windies closer with two sixes off the penultimate over, although captain Sammy left him to sort out things between the two sixes.
Needing 10 off the last over, Brathwaite played out the first two balls before going after a high full toss from Nabi. He appeared to have put enough on the ball, but Najibullah pulled off a stunning catch near the ropes to send him back with 10 off three balls needed. West Indies managed only three runs off the last three balls as Afghanistan pulled off the upset.
While the minnows have won only one of their four matches, they have managed to win hearts through their gritty displays in each of the matches. With the win over one of the tournament favorites, the newcomers can leave the Cup with their heads held high.
Earlier, after coasting into the semifinal winning three of their three matches, the West Indies took on Afghanistan in their last league match today. Captain Darren Sammy won the toss and opted to chase for the fourth time in as many matches in this Cup. The Windies rested explosive opener Chris Gayle for the dead rubber and handed a debut to left-handed batsman Evin Lewis.
Afghanistan, who had lost all their encounters in the Cup despite punching above their weight, went in to bat on the notorious Nagpur pitch and lost their first wicket in the 11th ball, as expected to spin. Badree sent down a wrong'un which opener Usman Ghani completely missed and the ball sneaked through to hit the timber. Mohammad Shahzad, the star of the Afghan line-up, continued his fine form as he sent Brathwaite to the boundary twice in the third over before dispatching Benn in the fourth over above the ropes. But Badree came back to remove the opener to quell any threat Afghanistan could have posed to the group-toppers. Badree removed Afghan skipper Asghar Stanikzai as well in the tenth over of the innings, before Benn took out Shenwari and Sammy accounted for Gulbadin Naib as the newcomers were left reeling at 57/5 by the end of the 12th over.
Najibullah Zadran and Mohammad Nabi rebuilt the innings a bit before Nab fell in the 17th over. Zadran, along with Shafiqullah on the other end, continued to keep the score at run-a-ball to reach 112 runs by the 19th over. Zadran played the short of the match in the first ball of the last over – a brilliant switch-hit off Bravo's full toss to send the ball racing to the point boundary. Despite Bravo making a comeback, Zadran managed 11 runs off the over to take Afghanistan to a possibly defendable total of 123, defendable against a Gayle-less line-up.
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