Pooran just shy of century as Windies light up record books in dominant win over Afghanistan

By Sports Desk June 18, 2024
Nicholas Pooran plays a shot during his knock of 98. Nicholas Pooran plays a shot during his knock of 98.

West Indies have sent a huge warning shot to all and sundry in the Super Eight of the ICC Men's T20 World Cup, as they eased past Afghanistan by 104 runs in their final group stage encounter at the Darren Sammy Stadium in St Lucia, on Monday.

The win not only ensured that West Indies head into the next phase of the tournament unbeaten, but more importantly, reaffirmed that the Darren Sammy-coached team is a force to be reckoned with, in their hunt for a third T20 World Cup crown. Their two titles to date were won in 2012 and 2016.

Having already secured qualification in the Super Eight stage, West Indies were chasing form and momentum against Afghanistan in the Group C top-of-the-table clash. However, the co-hosts put to rest any lingering doubt surrounding their title claims with the eye-catching performance that had historians scrambling.

Nicholas Pooran with a 53-ball 98, including six fours and eight sixes, led the record-breaking charge, as he assumed the record for most sixes in T20I for the Caribbean side. His tally, which now stands at 128 sixes, swept past Chris Gayle’s 124.

Homeboy Johnson Charles struck 43 off 27 balls including eight boundaries.

Obed McCoy (3-14) and spinners Gudakesh Motie (2-28) and Akeal Hosein (2-21) then did the damage with the ball.

Pooran’s knock is the highest individual score for the tournament so far, while West Indies’ total was their highest batting score in T20 World Cup, and the biggest of the tournament so far.

In fact, the 332 runs scored across both innings, was also the highest match aggregate involving West Indies and Afghanistan in a T20I.

Scores: West Indies: 218-5 (20 overs); Afghanistan 114 all out (16.2 overs)

Johnson Charles 43 from 27 balls had eight boundaries

After being asked to bat by Afghanistan, West Indies lost Brandon King (seven) in the second over, but it did little to halt their momentum, as Johnson Charles and Nicholas Pooran both clicked into top gear, in the blink of an eye.

Charles struck three boundaries in the third over, which inspired Pooran to do something truly out of this world at the change of ends. The wicketkeeper/batsman produced a 36-run over off Azmatullah Omarzai –6, 5NB, 5WD, 0, 4LB, 4, 6, 6 –being the sequence.

It’s the fifth time in Men’s T20I history an over has gone for 36 runs, and the second time at a World Cup.

The punishment continued, as the pair pushed West Indies to 92 for 1 at the six-over mark. It’s the biggest Powerplay total in Men’s T20 World Cup history.

Charles smacked another boundary that took West Indies to 100 from 7.4 overs, before he was dismissed to end an 80-run stand that took just six overs.

Shai Hope’s 17-ball 25, which had two sixes, helped the run rate stay in double digits, as Pooran raised the bat in the 14th over – his 50 came off just 31 balls and it was his first half-century in a T20 World Cup.

The boundaries had dried up in the middle overs courtesy of Afghanistan’s spinners, who gradually pulled things back, before captain Rovman Powell, who contributed 26 off 15 balls, including two sixes and a four, started finding his range – a six to start the 16th over took the Windies past the 150 mark.

Pooran found his groove again in the 17th over, and later cracked 24 runs off the 18th bowled by Afghanistan’s captain Rashid Khan. The Trinidadian southpaw later fell via the run out route, two runs shy of what would have been a well-deserved century.

Set a mammoth target, Afghanistan tried to set sail towards it, but lost Rahmanullah Gurbaz (zero), who lobbed to Andre Russell off Hosein’s third ball of the first over.

Gulbadin Naib and Ibrahim Zadran briefly steadied the ship at 45-1 at the end of the Powerplay, before Motie removed the former for seven, and triggered a collapse.

Wickets fell at regular intervals, as Afghanistan slipped to 66-5 at the half-way mark and never really recovered. Zadran’s 38 off 28 balls, including five fours and a solitary six, was the highlight of the innings, with Omarzai’s 19-ball 23 and captain Khan’s 18, being the next best scores.

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