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Shamarh Brooks’ Maiden Test Century Lights Up The Test In Windies’ Favor On Day 2 v Afghanistan

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Windies hold the advantage

After the West Indies bowlers, led by the young Rahkeem Cornwall’s brilliant 7-for, put the brakes on Afghanistan scoring on Day 1, restricting them under 200, it was time for some more West Indian domination on Day 2. Leading the Caribbean team’s charge on the second and important day of the 5-day contest, top- Shamarh Brooks’s maiden Test century- a watchfully composed 111- ensured the West Indies were handed a vital lead of 90 over Afghanistan.

Shamarh Brooks’ maiden Test century

Shamarh Brooks' maiden Test century
Brooks is now a promising addition to Windes’ middle order (Gulf News)

The watchful and dogged right-hander proved the Caribbean selectors the worth of his salt as he matched caution with aggression, reading the likes of Rashid Khan on a turning track with much diligence with some of the noted and more experienced batsmen in Shai Hope and Kraigg Brathwaite disappointed, perishing early on Day 1.
Implicit on Shamarh Brooks’ maiden Test century, a craftily composed knock that featured 15 boundaries and 1 six came off 214 deliveries. Of the little over 83 overs that his West Indies batted, Brooks’ cautious and workhorse stay at the crease meant that he faced nearly 36 overs on his own, thus giving selectors and possibly anxious fans a hint of his determination.
But other than Brooks, Hetmyer, who could only make 13 and Cornwall, 5, the big star from the opening day, disappointed. But their dismissals of the ace-spinner Rashid Khan left a lot to be desired from an umpiring point of view. It also then beckoned a question whether the West Indian batsmen were dealt a tough blow, the usually majestic Khan’s deliveries going on to miss the stumps- a curious question raised by fans on social media.

Unlucky dismissals?

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That said, despite Hetmyer and then captain Holder departing cheaply, one man that didn’t disappoint much the like his usual fashion was keeping-batsman Shane Dowrich. In compiling 42 vital run
s against a probing Afghanistan attack, a determined effort that would be most remembered for newcomer Hamza Hotak’s fifer, the right-handed batsman joined forces with Shamarh Brooks to give the Windies a slight edge over the Afghan opponents.
Hotak’s slow left armers were well disguised and more often than not, pitched in the line of the stumps, asking questions of Windies batsmen, several of which went unanswered, with only the top scorer standing up with steely resolve. Eventually, Shamarh Brook’s maiden Test century was ended by a rash shot that came against a relatively straighter one from the left-arm spinner.
On a pitch where runs had to be craftily sought and weren’t available for plenty, one thought whether the 90-run lead of the Windies was, after all, a satisfactory gain?

Hotak Afghanistan’s new spin weapon

Shamarh Brooks' maiden Test century
Amir Hotak Afghanistan new weapon of spin?

Any doubts toward that consideration were rendered obsolete as yet another batting failure, most noticeably by the middle and lower order exemplified Afghanistan’s troubles. The team, at the conclusion of the day, looking down in the dumps, the scorecard reflecting a disappointing 109-7.
Truth be told, when the Windies batsmen walked off with Hotak completing his fifer in trapping Roach plumb in front, the long, engaging team huddle among the Afghan eleven did promise to offer something bright in their second innings.

Another batting letdown by Afghanistan

Shamarh Brooks' maiden Test century
Cornwall has now picked up a 10-for (CricXtasy)

And honestly, at 53 without loss, trailing the Windies by only 37, one did think that Rashid and Asghar’s pep talk might have even worked effectively to the team’s advantage. This is precisely when led once again by Cornwall’s wily spin magic, a puzzle in itself, amplified by the right-arm spinner taking 10 wickets in the match (and counting) turned the game again in his team’s favor.
Chase, who picked up 3, a familiar force of reckoning, the tall Bajan knowing well to deceive well-set batsmen with his flighted but confusing deliveries helped him.
Although, there was staunch resistance on offer, through Javed Ahmadi’s brilliant and stroke-filled 62, but it wasn’t too inspirational in the end as his effort failed to inspire the rest of the batsmen to attack a confident-looking Windies line-up.
As Afghanistan have only 3 wickets to play with, their lead no more than 19, it remains to be seen if an unlikely resistance, as seen in the first inning down at the lower order can guide the team to ask the Windies to chase a decent score. But even if so, the chances of Afghanistan winning- the West Indians would feel- are as minuscule as are reading Rashid Khan’s mystery deliveries with comfortable ease.
The advantage, at this point, rests with Holder’s men. It is their game to lose.

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