Cricket World Cup: West Indies inflict more misery on Afghanistan

A warm day in Headingley did little to help Afghanistan make a mark in this year’s World Cup.

In what was often a lacklustre match, the West Indies were left celebrating a 23-run victory as their 311/6 proved too much for their opponents (288).

Chris Gayle fell short of making history in what was probably his last ODI World Cup,  the explosive batsman failed to make a mark with the bat. Gayle needed 18 runs in order to overtake Brian Lara as the West Indies leading run-scorer. However, he only managed seven runs from 18 balls. 

Both teams had little to lose, as neither side was progressing to the next stage of the tournament. The Windies lost an early wicket, but Shai Hope created stability, making a defiant 77.

Afghanistan at one time seemed to have the match in hand, a brilliant 86 from 18-year-old wicketkeeper Ikram Ali Khil kept Afghan hopes alive. Ikram was 14 runs short of becoming the youngest centurion in World Cup history.

Gayle fell in the sixth over, giving hope to the Afghans. But a partnership between Hope and Evin Lewis who made 58 helped steady the ship.

Further contributions from Shimron Hetmyer (39), Nicholas Pooran (58) and captain Jason Holder (45) saw the Windies put 311 on the board. The last 10 overs saw a a batting masterclass as 111 runs were added to the total.

There was little the Afghan bowlers could do, with four catches being dropped. It was a hard day in the office for the Afghan team. Afghan captain Gulbadin Naib appeared to duck in fear as the last bowl of the Windies innings came towards him, much to the delight of the crowd. 

Naib came out to open but was dismissed in the second over, the odds were stacked against Afghanistan. However, the small contingent of Afghan fans remained buoyed as Ikram and Rahmat Shah (62) helped give Afghanistan a fighting chance.

Rahmat was dropped on 57 by Sheldon Cottrell, the crowd reminded Cottrell of this mischance throughout the match. The Windies like Afghanistan were poor in the field with several mis-fields.

What Gayle failed to do with the bat he more than made up for in the field. A Gayle catch helped break a 133-run partnership, as Rahmat gave away an easy wicket

Gayle was back in action as he took the wicket of Ikram (LBW). Najibulla Zadran (31) and Asghar Afghan (40) added to the scoreboard, but after Zadran was cheaply run out via a brilliant throw by Hetmyer, victory was a distant dream.

Ikram’s dismissal was the catalyst of an Afghan collapse. Afghanistan went from 189 for two to 288 all out, with Sayed Shirzad giving away his wicket to a spectacular Oshane Thomas catch on the last ball of the match.

Afghanistan had shown promise throughout the tournament, causing trouble for both India and Pakistan but ended their World Cup with zero points.

The Windies also did not have much to write home about. They started strong with a dominant victory over Pakistan, but they soon petered out, registering their second win against Afghanistan and ending the tournament with just five points.  

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