Pooran, bowlers excel in West Indies’ dominant win over Afghanistan in T20 World Cup

New York - Nicholas Pooran's scintillating 98-run innings and an impressive performance by the bowlers led the West Indies to a crushing 104-run victory over Afghanistan in the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2024 at the Daren Sammy National Cricket Stadium on Monday. 

The West Indies, remaining undefeated in the group stage, set a formidable target of 219 runs. Afghanistan, in response, was bundled out for 114 in 16.2 overs, suffering their first loss of the tournament. 

West Indies' spinner Akeal Hosein initiated the defense with a wicket maiden, removing star batter Rahmanullah Gurbaz for a duck. Ibrahim Zadran attempted to stabilize the innings with a 45-run partnership with Gulbadin Naib (7), but the West Indies bowlers struck back with three quick wickets, reducing Afghanistan to 59-4. 

Gudakesh Motie dismissed Naib, while Obed McCoy took two crucial wickets in one over, sending Ibrahim Zadran (38) and Najibullah Zadran back to the pavilion. Azmatullah Omarzai (23), Karim Janat (14), and Rashid Khan (18) provided brief resistance, but it was insufficient to turn the game around. McCoy led the bowling attack with figures of 3-14, while Hosein and Motie each claimed two wickets. 

After being sent into bat, West Indies started strongly, with the opening pair of Brandon King (7) and Johnson Charles adding 22 runs in the first ten balls. Azmatullah Omarzai soon dismissed King, but Charles and Pooran accelerated the innings, scoring 80 runs off 38 balls for the second wicket. 

Pooran's spectacular assault included 26 runs in one over from Omarzai, propelling West Indies to 92-1 in the powerplay—the highest in a T20 World Cup match. Naveen-ul-Haq broke the partnership by dismissing Charles, who scored a quick 43 off 27 balls. 

After the powerplay, Pooran slowed down briefly while Shai Hope (25) kept the momentum going. Skipper Rovman Powell (26) joined Pooran, and they cautiously built a 64-run stand before Pooran was run out in the last over, scoring a brilliant 98 off 53 balls, featuring six boundaries and eight sixes.  

Andre Russell (3) and Sherfane Rutherford (1) remained unbeaten, taking West Indies to an imposing total of 218-5. Gulbadin Naib was the pick of the bowlers for Afghanistan, taking 2-14, while Omarzai and Naveen-ul-Haq claimed one wicket each. 

Sharing his view, player of the match Nicholas Pooran said: "I had to see the conditions early and take responsibility. In the West Indies, people want fours and sixes, but you can't do that every time, but when conditions allow, you should capitalize. We wanted to be consistent as a team from 12-14 months ago." 

WEST INDIES 218-5 (Pooran 98, Charles 43, Naib 2-14) beat AFGHANISTAN 114 (Ibrahim 38, McCoy 3-14) by 104 runs.

Azhar Khan is an accomplished senior sports journalist with extensive experience in the field. He can be reached at azharmasood786@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter at @azharmasood786

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