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|Mujib Ur Rahman||3.0||0||10||0||3.33|
Not often has it happened that four different test-playing teams are playing in two different matches in one country. In fact, 14th November was the first time it happened when Afghanistan took on West Indies at Lucknow. In another match, Bangladesh locked horns with India. West Indies are set to take on the Afghans for the second time in the series and will be looking to seal the series then and there. The match will be played at the same venue - in Lucknow, on 16th November. Unlike what happened in the ODI series, Afghanistan came close in the shortest version of the game, but were left stranded at the end. With both teams looking well acquanited with the conditions, we expect a cracker of a contest on Saturday.
Unlike the ODI leg of the series, there were plenty of things that went Afghanistan's way, but unfortunately the result didn't. It was always going to be difficult to bounce back into the tournament after a 3-0 defeat in the ODI leg, especially with the matches being so close to each other, but Afghanistan did well to keep the visitors at bay for most part of the match.
It all started when Rashid Khan won an important toss and put West Indies in to bat. Afghanistan's bowlers did well to keep West Indies to a manageable total of 164 on a surface where it should have been an easy chase. Barring Fareed Ahmed and Naveen-ul-Haq, the Afghans would be pleased by the way their bowling performed. Gulbadin Naib was the pick of their bowlers as he returned with the decent figures of 24 for 2 in his four overs.
With a decent batting lineup, which had plenty of experience of playing at the surface of Lucknow, the chase should have been a walk in the park. However, it was not to be. Hazratullah Zazai struggled to get his timing right at the beginning and the wickets falling around him didn't help the cause either. A 48-run partnership between Asghar Afghan and Zazai raised their hopes, but the fall of Zazai triggered a mini-collapse from which the Afghans could never recover. As many of three of their top-order players got starts, but none of them could make it count.
Hazratullah Zazai, Asghar Afghan, Ibrahim Zadran, N Zadran, Rahmanullah Gurbaz, Mohammad Nabi, Gulbadin Naib, Rashid Khan, Karim Janat, Naveen-ul-Haq, Mujeeb Ur Rahman.
In a format they love to play, West Indies have started in a flying fashion. The confidence of a win in the ODI series rubbed on them in the shortest version of the game as well as they registered a win in the first match of the series, albeit not as convincingly as they'd have liked.
Without the likes of Chris Gayle, Dwayne Bravo, and Marlon Samuels, West Indies have looked an altogether different unit under the new leadership of Kieren Pollard. Batting first on a pretty good surface, West Indies batsmen struggled for timing. Evin Lewis, who scored 61 runs at a pretty good rate, pretty much dragged the West Inidies' innings. Kieren Pollard chipped in with a brisk 32, which proved to be the difference in the match.
While their batting did a respectable job to take them to 164, it was their bowling that set up the win for them. With dew spread all over the park and outfield that was quick, defending the total was a tough job. Kesrick Williams was brilliant upfront while Pollard bowled three beautiful overs to keep Afghanistan behind the eight-ball throughout the match. Pollard was adjudged man of the match for his brilliant spell and the knock he played in the first innings.
Brandon King, Evin Lewis, Shimron Hetmyer, Denesh Ramdin, Kieron Pollard, Sherfane Rutherford, Jason Holder, KOK Williams, Keemo Paul, Hayden Walsh, Sheldon Cottrell.
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Afghanistan did almost everything right in the first match but were still left wanting to do more. West Indies, on the other hand, escaped with a couple of brilliant individual outings. The margin of win perhaps reflects a bit more than what it actually was on the field. Considering that as well as the motivation to bounce back in the series, Afghanistan could do well in the upcoming match. With the odds of 2.555, they offer pretty good reward ration and will therefore be our pick to win the upcoming fixture.
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