West Indies lost their second and final warm-up match against Afghanistan today by 55 runs at the ICC Academy Ground in Dubai and will start their ICC T20 World Cup defence on Saturday on the back of a three-game losing streak.
The defending champions, WI are chasing an unprecedented third World Cup title in this format and begin their campaign against England at 10am (9am Jamaica time) in a Super 12 fixture at the Dubai International Stadium.
However, captain Kieron Pollard and his men had little to savour this week as they could only muster 133 for 5 against Afghanistan today while chasing a total of 189 for 5. The result followed Monday’s 7-wkt loss to Pakistan with 24 balls to spare.
In between the two defeats, all-rounder Fabian Allen was ruled out in the 15-man team through injury and replaced by Akeal Hosein.
Today, the Afghanistan cricketers, who are representing a country in turmoil, won the toss and elected to bat first.
Both teams used 13 players with 11 allowed to bat. For WI, veterans Chris Gayle and Dwayne Bravo did not suit up, with Bravo—fresh from his IPL win with the Chennai Super Kings last week—rested for both warm-up fixtures.
Afghanistan’s opening pair of Hazratullah Zazai and Mohammad Shahzad made their intentions clear from the first over, when WI pacer Oshane Thomas went for 16 runs, with two fours and one six.
Zazai and Shahzad had a 90-run partnership before the former player was caught by Evin Lewis off leg-spinner Hayden Walsh Jr off the last ball of the ninth over. Zazai’s 56 came off 35 balls.
Afghanistan’s next two partnerships contributed 39 and 50 runs respectively, as they continued to score fairly freely. Shahzad managed 54 off 35 balls while number three Rahmanullah Gurbaz made 33 off 26 balls.
West Indies pacer Obed McCoy had 2/43 runs at an economy rate of 10.75 while Walsh (1/24; econ. 8.00), Ravi Rampaul (1/34; econ. 11.33) and Andre Russell (1/13; econ. 6.50) got a wicket each. Walsh and Rampaul both bowled three overs while Russell bowled just two.
Thomas ended wicket-less, conceded 28 off his two overs at an econ. rate of 14, while, at the other end, Hosein went for 25 off his four overs at an encouraging 6.25 econ. rate.
Earlier in the day, Hosein had been added to the WI 15-man squad as a replacement for the injured Fabian Allen. The 28-year-old leg-spinner made his T20I debut this year for the ‘Maroon Men’ but is still seeking his first wicket. He may be a real option to help strangle rampant batsmen.
On Monday, West Indies had batted first and managed just 130 runs off their allotted overs for the loss of seven wickets.Today, at least at the start, Pollard’s batsmen were no more convincing.
Lendl Simmons lasted two balls before he departed without scoring, while Evin Lewis (3 off 6 balls) and Shimron Hetmyer (2 off 10 balls) also failed to get going, the Caribbean visitors sliding to 27 for 3 at one stage.
After nine overs, the West Indies had reached 39 for 3, with Roston Chase and Nicholas Pooran at the crease and the run-rate a paltry 4.33. At that stage, they needed to score at just under 14 runs an over to catch Afghanistan.
Pooran managed 35 off 26 deliveries—with four fours and one six—before he was caught by Mohammad Nabi off Karim Janat in the 15th over when the score was 97 for 4. Chase, described by Pollard as the team’s ‘stabiliser’, finished unbeaten on 54 off 58 balls, with seven boundaries, including one six.
That was as good as it got for the WI batsmen, who will hope to get it right when the action starts in earnest on Saturday.
Afghanistan 189 for 5: (Hazratullah Zazai 56, Mohammad Shahzad 54; Obed McCoy 2/43)
West Indies 133 for 5: (Roston Chase 54*, Nicholas Pooran 35; Mohammad Nabi 3/2)
Result: Afghanistan won by 55 runs