Spurred by a brutish, stroke-filled half-century by Evin Lewis and an all-round bowling display by Kieron Pollard and spirited bowling line-up, the West Indies carried forward the winning mantra in the recently-concluded ODIs into the T20 series in the recently concluded Afghanistan vs West Indies first of the three T20 internationals here in Lucknow.
Although Kieron Pollard’s men lost the toss and were invited into bat by Rashid Khan, Afghanistan’s bowlers were immediately put under pressure in the early stages of the opening T20 international.
The Caribbean batters expressed themselves with rich vigor and didn’t hold themselves back as they counterpunched Afghanistan’s tricky spin attack to post a competitive 164 on the board. The 164 compiled by the Windies batters did seem somewhat sub-par given the Windies were at one stage going well over 9 an over even before the halfway stage arrived.
Nonetheless, an all-round bowling display led by the experienced Jason Holder, the exuberant and wicket-taking Sheldon Cottrell and the returning Kesrick Williams proved enough for the embattled Afghanistan side and featured among the key talking points from the First T20 from Afghanistan vs West Indies.
But that said, what were the other talking points from the First T20 between Afghanistan vs West Indies? Let’s find out:
Gulabdin Naib emerges the most successful of Afghan bowlers
In a contest where there wasn’t much of an excitement for the Afghanistan bowlers, Ghulabdin Naib, the muscular medium-pacer emerged as the pick of the bowlers from the Afghan unit.
Introduced much later into the attack after the dangerous Shimron Hetmyer had departed but not before compiling a useful stand with Lewis in upsetting the rhythm of the Afghan bowlers, Ghulabdin Naib was quick and tedious in a memorable spell where he succeeded in putting the brakes on the scoring of the West Indian middle order.
He first removed the highest scorer in the opening T20, Evin Lewis and was later instrumental in dismantling the stumps of Denesh Ramdin, who had just begin to cut loose.
Captain Pollard leads by example and stars with an all-round show
Ever since the experienced Kieron Pollard, a seasoned white-ball campaigner for the team has taken over the reins of the West Indian captaincy, one has seen a quite resurgence taking place in the Caribbean set-up.
Continuing on his good all-round form, as seen in the limited-overs series, Kieron Pollard led from the front and contributed valuable runs when the Afghan bowlers had successfully put the brakes on their scoring in the death overs.
Compiling a stroke-filled 32 off just 22 balls, including a towering six, Pollard contributed more goods later on by shining with the ball as he collected two useful wickets in the Afghan innings.
At a time where leading from the front is so important for a captain, the experienced Trinidadian did little to disappoint.
Kesrick Williams stars in his returning contest for his West Indies
Among the most resourceful and wicket-taking of the West Indian medium-pacers, the talented Kesrick Williams starred in his comeback game for the Windies, having stayed on the sidelines for a while now.
In picking three useful wickets while conceding only 17 runs off his 4 overs, Williams maintained an immaculate economy over under 4.5 an over.
But the pick of the three wickets clinched by the right-arm was that of the dangerous and big-hitting Zazai, a batsman who can dismantle any bowling attack once set on the crease. Luckily for the Windies, it didn’t transpire in the First T20 at Afghanistan vs West Indies contest.
Kesrick will hope to continue his wicket-taking form in the remainder of the games in the series.
Evin Lewis dazzles with glowing fifty
In the absence of Chris Gayle, it was up for Evin Lewis to deliver the goods in the form of a flying start for the West Indies and he didn’t disappoint.
At one time, Evin Lewis was only on 1 of 8 deliveries as Afghanistan tried everything in their might to curb Lewis, confining him to play straight whilst giving him no width whatsoever.
But an expansive sweep off Nabi first up helped Evin Lewis gain some confidence and then latching on to the likes of Mujeeb and other bowlers, the Trinidadian was quickly on his way.
Evin Lewis was particularly harsh on the faster bowlers and swatted his bat all around the park in collecting menacing strikes and whips in his favorite mid-on and long-on regions. There were muscular hooks and powerful pulls with Evin Lewis exhibiting a full range of his strokes on his cherished on the side.
In the end, a batsman with a strike rate of over 159, ended up smoking a valuable 68 but only from 41 balls, a knock that yielded six sixes, the most by any batsman in the contest.
Not the best of starts for Brendon King in T20 internationals for WI
Among the big talking points from the First T20 between Afghanistan vs West Indies was King’s forgettable outing with the bat.
A natural stroke-maker and someone who likes to hit a lot straight than opting to go cross-batted, the talented Brandon King didn’t really get off to a flier in his debut T20 contest for his West Indies.
While the third ball of the contest saw King cream a slightly over-pitched delivery from Mujeeb toward the cover boundary, he was sent back immediately on the next one as he failed to read a straighter one from the talented spinner as instead of coming forward, he opted to use the back foot, which proved to be his undoing.
It remains to be seen how he would fare in the rest of the games. While there’s no doubting his big-hitting talent, one’s got to see whether he can apply himself against an imposing spin line-up.
Stay tuned at Kyrosports for all the updates of Afghanistan vs West Indies series.