West Indies Test captain Jason Holder wants his side to be among the best in the world by July 2021 and goes further to expect a top-five ranking by then.

There was a time when that kind of brash talk would have been expected from a West Indian but not given the kind of lean times the region has had with bat and ball in the last 25 years.

Holder was speaking after the West Indies won its first Test match under new coach Phil Simmons in Lucknow, India, beating Afghanistan by nine wickets.

The International Cricket Council (ICC) started the World Test Championship on August 1, 2019, creating a league for the top nine Test-playing teams over two years with the top two teams qualifying for a World Test League Championship Final. The World Test Championship begins again in July of 2021.

That being said, the West Indies did not start their World Test Championship campaign very well, losing to India in the Caribbean in a largely one-sided affair.

But now, with the dominance the West Indies showed against Afghanistan, despite it not being a World Test Championship encounter, hope abounds once again.

"I think by the end of the Test Championship, I don't see it being impossible for us to be fourth or fifth in the world," said Holder.

"That would be a significant achievement in a two-year period. We've got some tough series coming up. We've got England, then South Africa coming to the Caribbean, then we've got New Zealand… all good cricket sides. But I don't think it's beyond us to beat them. We've just got to make sure we keep building and developing. Once we do that, we can compete with any side in the world. A realistic target in two years would be to be ranked three or four in the world."

According to Holder, while the game was not part of the World Test Championship, there was enough shown by the West Indies to offer a road map of what needed to be done to get into the top five.

"I've said it in the last couple of series we've played: more responsibility needs to be taken by our batters," Holder said.

"Once they do that and take the bull by the horns, I think our bowling attack has shown it can compete with any attack in the world. We've shown glimpses of brilliance, which is all well and good, but consistency is the name of the game. In order to be a world-class team, you have to be consistent with your batting. You have to get 20 wickets of course, but you have to set it up with the bat. First innings' count for a lot. If we can put teams under pressure with our first innings scores, more often than not, West Indies will be up there among the top-ranked sides in the world."

While the West Indies were expected to dominate their one-off Test against Afghanistan in Lucknow, India, they still had to do it and it was important to their skipper, Jason Holder, that the year ended with his side tasting some success.

The West Indies, playing in a one-off Test after T20 and ODI series against Afghanistan, were emphatic nine-wicket winners after bowling out the hosts for 187 and 120 while scoring 277 and 31-1.

The results were brought about by Rahkeem Cornwall’s 7-75 and 3-46, as well as Shamarh Brooks first-innings knock of 111.

“Really important win, you know. We had a tough series against India. Was important to finish the year well,” said Holder after his West Indies side finished the game inside three days.

Holder also pointed out that there was a certain type of unity within the West Indies squad that he believed would hold them in good stead for bigger challenges on the horizon.

“We've got a good group going. The whole management staff has been excellent. We've got good unity, we have a one-team motif. Once we love one another, the job becomes much easier on the cricket field. Hope it continues," he said.

Holder was also pleased with the way the new players in the side have come on and held their hands up to be counted when the going gets tough.

“Very pleasing to see new guys come in and take the opportunity. Shamarh did that. He scored a fifty in the last innings and followed it with a hundred here. It was full of class. And then Rahkeem getting seven in the first innings, in just his second Test, is amazing,” said Holder.

Rahkeem Cornwall’s 10-wicket haul in a nine-wicket win for the West Indies over Afghanistan in Lucknow, India, while a great start, is just one part of the game the all-rounder wants to get right for the regional side.

Afghanistan skipper Rashid Khan believes his side can be a much better Test side given the opportunity.

Rashid was speaking after Friday’s demolition at the hands of the West Indies in Lucknow, India.

The West Indies, playing in a one-off Test after T20 and ODI series against Afghanistan, were emphatic nine-wicket winners after bowling out the hosts for 187 and 120 while scoring 277 and 31-1.

The results were brought about by Rahkeem Cornwall’s 7-75 and 3-46, as well as Shamarh Brooks first-innings knock of 111.

But according to Rashid, despite the one-sidedness of the affair, there isn’t a big gap between Afghanistan and the better Test-playing nations.

“I think, what I've seen, we've been struggling in the longer formats. Especially in batting. That's the only area we need to improve. Once we do that, we can trouble good sides,” he said.

The Afghanistan skipper believes that his team lacks experience, and with a little more of it, the teams at the top will have to watch out.

“Still early days in our Test careers, only our fourth game, against an experienced Windies. Hope to recover from our mistakes. We want more Tests,” said Rashid.

At the moment, the opportunity for Afghanistan to play more Test cricket and to get that valuable experience is a little beyond them, a situation, Rashid is not happy with.

“Just one Test per year isn't good enough.”

But the talent is there and Rashid is hopeful that the best for Afghanistan, is yet to come.

“Great talent for us in the future. We are not taking our batting innings long. People are getting out for thirties and forties. We need to work on that. Overall, quite disappointing. And we will try to bring the improvements,” said Rashid.

Afghanistan will now turn its attention away from Test cricket for the moment to the Asia Cup and the T20 World Cup early next year.

West Indies needed just an hour to complete a nine-wicket rout of Afghanistan on day three of the one-off Test in Lucknow.

Resuming on 109-7, Afghanistan only lasted another 7.1 overs as Windies captain Jason Holder claimed the remaining three wickets on Friday.

Afghanistan were skittled for 120 – a lead of just 31 – after Holder (3-20) sent Rashid Khan (1), Yamin Ahmadzai (1) and Afsar Zazai (7) back to the pavilion.

The Windies then eased to victory, despite Amir Hamza (1-5) getting Kraigg Brathwaite (8) caught behind, as John Campbell (19 not out) and Shai Hope (6 not out) led the team to 33-1.

Shamarh Brooks' maiden Test century and a 10-wicket haul from Rahkeem Cornwall had put the Windies in complete control on day two.

"I'm delighted with my performance," Cornwall said after being named man of the match. "Playing for West Indies was my dream as a youngster and now 10 wickets in a Test match is amazing."

At 31 years old, Shamarh Brooks is playing in just his second Test, but he will not allow that late start to create anxiety that could mean he performs at less than his best for the West Indies.

Shamarh Brooks struck a magnificent maiden Test century before Rahkeem Cornwall claimed a 10-wicket match haul on day two to leave West Indies closing in on victory against Afghanistan.

Brooks showed great skill and application in only his third Test to make 111 after John Campbell fell for 55 as the Windies posted 277 in Lucknow.

Debutant Amir Hamza took 5-74 on a turning pitch to restrict the Windies' lead to 90 runs, but Afghanistan were reduced to 109-7 at stumps - leading by only 19 and facing a heavy defeat.

Cornwall claimed brilliant Test-best figures of 7-75 in only his second international on day one and helped himself to 3-41 on Thursday.

Roston Chase (3-10) also took advantage of spin-friendly conditions at Ekana International Cricket Stadium, striking a big blow by removing Javed Ahmadi for 62 with the final ball of the day.

Campbell and Brooks got Jason Holder's side off to a solid start after resuming on 68-2, but the opener departed when Ihsanullah took a fine catch anticipating the sweep off Hamza to end a stand of 82.

Shimron Hetmyer and Chase also fell before lunch, but Brooks played positively in the morning session, before reigning it in somewhat following the break.

Shane Dowrich (42) offered support to take the Windies into the lead and Brooks attacked Rashid Khan (3-114) after the wicketkeeper-batsman was removed by Zahir Khan.

Elegant Barbados batsman Brooks had struck a six and 15 fours by the time he was bowled by impressive left-armer Hamza.

Just as in their first innings, Afghanistan got off to an encouraging start, but they were 59-4 after losing four wickets for six runs - burly spinner Cornwall taking two in one over.

Ahmadi stood firm as wickets tumbled around him, but Chase produced a devastating late burst and had the opener caught by Cornwall just before the close to leave Afghanistan on the ropes.

Rahkeem Cornwall has downplayed the idea that there was a magical formula for his performance on the first day of a one-off Test match against Afghanistan in Lucknow, India.

Afghanistan failed to capitalise on an encouraging start to the inaugural Test against West Indies as spinner Rahkeem Cornwall took seven wickets on day one.

Cornwall claimed magnificent figures of 7-75 in only his second international as Afghanistan were bowled out for 187 at the Ekana Cricket Stadium in Lucknow, having been 84-1 at one stage.

The Windies recovered from the loss of two early wickets in reply, closing on 68-2 with John Campbell and Shamarh Brooks the unbeaten batsmen.

Ibrahim Zadran (17) struck three boundaries before being caught in Cornwall's second over by Jason Holder at leg slip following a successful appeal that left the batsman seething after the Windies won the toss.

Ihsanullah (24) and Javed Ahmadi (39) were going along well before the latter sent an over-confident drive off Jomel Warrican straight to Brooks.

Ihsanullah then edged to Shai Hope as Cornwall sparked a sudden collapse, leaving Afghanistan in the mire on 111-7 after losing six wickets for just 27 runs.

Debutant Amir Hamza (34) made a start before Cornwall struck twice more in quick succession, Hamza edging to Shane Dowrich and Warrican catching Yamin Ahmadzai (18) at long-off.

Cornwall's first-innings figures were the best by a West Indies spinner since Jack Noriega's 9-95 back in 1971.

Hamza trapped Kraigg Brathwaite (11) lbw and Rashid Khan led the celebrations when Hope fell for the loss of just seven, leaving the Windies 34-2 and feeling some early pressure in their first innings.

However, Campbell (30) and Brooks (19) steadied the ship with seven boundaries between them and will look to press on when they resume on Thursday.

A Nicholas Pooran-less West Indies did not have the power to deal with Afghanistan over the course of a three-match T20I series, the wicketkeeper/batsman missing out while he serves a four-match ban over ball tampering.

Steve Smith, who had been banned for a year for the part he played in a ball-tampering scandal, lost his captaincy of Australia, and is only months back with the side.

Pooran was only banned for four games but Smith doesn’t feel the talented middle-order batsman should be punished anymore harshly.

"Everyone is different, every board is different, and the way they deal with certain issues. For me, I copped it on the chin... it is what it is,” he said.

Smith expects a better Pooran to come out of the embarrassment of being caught cheating.

“I know Nicholas, I've played a bit of cricket with him and he's a talented player and someone with a bright future," Smith said.

"I think he'll learn from his mistake and move past it,” he said.

I played with him in the Caribbean league at Barbados. I think he's going to be an exceptional player in white-ball cricket."

Steve Smith insists there are no hard feelings towards West Indies batsman Nicholas Pooran despite his relatively lenient four-match ban for ball tampering.

Australia's skipper at the time, Smith, along with vice-captain David Warner and team-mate Cameron Bancroft, received a long suspension for his role in the ball-tampering scandal in South Africa in March 2018.

Smith and Warner did not play for a year following sanctions handed out by Cricket Australia, with Bancroft returning after nine months.

Meanwhile, Pooran, who admitted to changing the condition of the ball in a one-dayer against Afghanistan, will miss four games after being punished by the International Cricket Council.

The Windies will soon have Pooran available again, but Smith would prefer not to reflect upon the contrasting punishments.

"Everyone is different, every [cricket] board is different with the way they deal with certain issues," Smith said. "For me, I copped it on the chin. It is what it is.

"I don't feel hard done by. It was a long time ago now. I've moved past it and I'm focusing on the present.

"I know Nicholas, I've played a bit of cricket with him, and he's a talented player and someone with a bright future.

"I think he'll learn from his mistake and move past it. I think he's going to be an exceptional player in white-ball cricket."

Windies T20 skipper Kieron Pollard insists the team will focus on the positives despite a 29-runs loss to Afghanistan, which handed the South Asian team a 2-1 series win on Sunday.

After winning the toss and choosing to bat, a punishing 79 from 52 balls from man-of-match Rahmanullah Gurbaz, lifted the hosts to 156 for 8 and set the table for the crucial win.  The opener was left to anchor the innings following the departure of partner Hazratullah Zazai for a duck and the team losing wickets at regular intervals.

In response, Shai Hope did his best to keep the Windies in the hunt as they pursued the target and added 52 from 46 balls.  He, however, found very little support as the team found the bowlers difficult to get away on the slow surface.  Naveen-ul-Haq was the most successful of the Afghanistan bowlers and claimed 3 for 24.

“It was a similar situation to yesterday. We found ourselves in a hole in the Powerplay and couldn't dig ourselves out of it. I can’t fault the effort of the bowlers. but having said that, the guys would have taken a lot from this series and how to adapt and play on slower pitches,” Pollard said.

 “We have a long-term plan, but we have to deal with what's in front of us right now.  I can't say what will happen in October next year (for the T20 World Cup). Yes, we are on the losing side, but these things happen. In sport, there is a winner and a loser.”

The Windies won the first T20I against Afghanistan by 30 runs, lost the second by 41 runs, before being swept aside in the decider.

Rahmanullah Gurbaz bludgeoned his highest international score as Afghanistan sealed a first Twenty20 series win over West Indies with a 29-run victory in Lucknow.

Afghanistan set up a decider by making 1-1 at the same venue on Saturday and completed the turnaround the following day, 17-year-old Gurbaz smashing 79 off 52 balls in their total of 156-8.

The Windies' shortcomings with the bat were then shown up as could only make 127-7 in a poor run chase, Naveen-ul-Haq taking 3-24.

Shai Hope top scored with 52 in his first game of the series as a replacement for the injured Denesh Ramdin, but Kieron Pollard's first T20 series as captain ended in a surprise defeat on the back of a 3-0 ODI victory.

Bangladesh were the only other top-10 side Afghanistan had beaten in a bilateral series in the shortest format before they came from behind to stun the Windies.

Sheldon Cottrell (2-29) removed Hazratullah Zazai in the first over and the left-arm seamer had Karim Janat - hero with the ball 24 hours earlier - caught behind in an excellent opening spell.

Teenage wicketkeeper-batsman Gurbaz demonstrated his repertoire of shots, bringing out the ramp, sweeping with assurance and timing the ball sweetly as he brought up his half-century in 37 balls.

Asghar Afghan (24) provided support in a fourth-wicket stand of 50 and Gurbaz had hit five sixes by the time he struck Pollard to Keemo Paul - who took two wickets along with the Kesrick Williams - at deep point.

Naveen and Mujeeb Ur Rahman had the Windies in trouble on 16-2 after dismissing Brandon King and Lendl Simmons respectively.

The dangerous Evin Lewis followed for 24 as Afghanistan continued to keep it tight and captain Rashid Khan saw the back of Shimron Hetmyer as the captain claimed superb figures of 1-18 from his four overs.

Hope ticked along at just over a run a ball, but the Windies remained behind the required rate and the wicketkeeper-batsman fell to Gulbadin Naib - who dropped him on 11 - in the penultimate over.

Pollard and Holder were taken in the deep off Naveen as West Indies fell well short of their target.

West Indies captain Kieron Pollard is planning to hit back hard at Afghanistan after the hosts won their first game against his side in Lucknow, India on Saturday.

Afghanistan were dominant against the West Indies, beating them by 47 runs despite not scoring many when their side batted.

The result, largely coming on the back of Karim Janat’s 5-11, gave the skipper pause to think.

He has had things largely his own way since his debut as captain at the start of a three-match ODI series his team bossed and one T20I where they proved much better than their opposition, but now he has to will his team to come good when the outcome isn’t so clear.

“We just have 24 hours to wrong the rights, and hopefully we come back and do those things right tomorrow. 1-1 is a virtual final tomorrow, and you'd want to see how the guys react tomorrow. Happy times for us in terms of how we have played through this series. We need to have conversations on what to improve on for tomorrow,” said Pollard.

As for the game just concluded, Pollard believes the West Indies did a few things wrong.

"At the halfway stage, we were happy with 147. Their batsmen came hard at us, but we came back well, especially Kesrick. We cannot fault the bowlers. We didn't get a good start in the Powerplay, and we lost wickets every time we were trying to be aggressive,” he said.

Earlier, Afghanistan had scored 147-7 from their 20 overs with Hazratullah Zazai and Janat scoring 26, Gulbadin Naib, 24, and Najibullah Zadran, 20 not out.

Kesrick Williams had been the best bowler for the West Indies, bagging 3-23, while Keemo Paul, replacing the injured Fabian Allen, ended with 2-28, and Jason Holder, 2-23.

When the West Indies batted, only Denish Ramdin, 24 not out, seemed interested against Naveen-ul-Haq, 1-19, Rashid Khan, 1-25, Naib, 1-22, and the brilliant 5-11 from Janat.

Karim Janat ripped through West Indies with a maiden five-wicket Twenty20 International haul as Afghanistan dished out a 41-run defeat to set up a series decider in Lucknow.

Kesrick Williams followed up an impressive bowling display in the first match of the series by taking 3-23 in Afghanistan's 147-7 on Saturday.

That total was more than enough for Rashid Khan's men to make it 1-1, with all-rounder Janat claiming 5-11 - the second-best figures by an Afghanistan bowler in the shortest format - from his four overs as the Windies made only 106-8.

Afghanistan, whitewashed 3-0 in the ODI series, will look to complete the turnaround by winning the final match at the same venue on Sunday.

Hazratullah Zazai and Rahmanullah Gurbaz got Afghanistan off to a good start after they won the toss, but both openers fell from consecutive deliveries in the fifth over from Williams with 42 on the board.

Jason Holder (2-23) trapped Janat leg before for 26 and had Asghar Afghan caught behind, while Keemo Paul - replacing the injured Fabian Allen - took 2-28 as Afghanistan were kept in check.

Najibullah Zadran (20 not) and Gulbadin Naib (24) were able to provide some late impetus and the Windies never got going in a sorry run chase.

Shimron Hetmyer was adjudged lbw to the impressive Janat, who also saw the back of Evin Lewis and Sherfane Rutherford to leave West Indies in trouble on only 45-4 at the halfway mark.

Captain Kieron Pollard was also struck in front by Janat and the rampant seamer had five when he cleaned up Paul in his final over, Denesh Ramdin top scoring with an unbeaten 24 in a poor effort with the bat from the Windies.

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