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Windies hit back to level ODI Series against Afghanistan

Gulbadin Naib scored his third ODI fifty but Afghanistan fell to West Indies in the second ODI in St Lucia on June 11, 2017. Photo: Provided
ROAD TOWN, Tortola, VI - Stung by their 63-run defeat in the first ODI, the West Indies levelled the series against Afghanistan with a 4 wicket win in game 2 on Sunday June 11, 2017 in St Lucia.

The West Indies hit back via their fast bowlers, who exposed Afghanistan's frailties against the short ball as they slid to 135 all out. West Indies' batting, though, isn't without frailties of its own, and Rashid Khan, responsible for bowling them out for 149 on Friday, caused yet another serious wobble with his zippy, stump-to-stump legbreaks and googlies. Afghanistan's total, though, proved a fair way short of matchwinning as Shai Hope held a shaky chase together and steered West Indies to a series-levelling four-wicket win.

Afghanistan could perhaps have pushed West Indies even closer with more aggressive tactics. Asghar Stanikzai, their captain, only brought Rashid on in the seventh over, by which time Evin Lewis and Kieran Powell had already knocked 37 off the target.

Rashid struck in his first over, getting Powell to nick a googly to slip, and went around the wicket in his third over to trap Lewis lbw with another perfectly pitched wrong 'un. This was high-quality bowling, and West Indies' batsmen, unsure of which way the ball would turn, were stabbing nervously at him with leaden feet. Stanikzai, though, took Rashid off the attack after only a five-over spell.

Gulbadin Naib, who had already made a sizeable contribution by scoring his third ODI fifty, then brought Afghanistan more cheer with his medium-pace, dismissing Jonathan Carter - who showed poor judgment while cutting - and Jason Mohammed - who failed to keep a cut down - in his first three overs.

With West Indies four down, Stanikzai brought Rashid back after only two overs from Amir Hamza. Hope and Roston Chase played out the leg spinner's sixth and seventh overs, but he struck again with the last ball of his eighth, flighting it wide of off stump and inviting the drive. Dip deceived Chase into reaching for the ball, turn made him miss it, and all of that unbalanced him enough to drag him out of his crease. Afsar Zazai's lightning hands did the rest behind the stumps.

By then, though, West Indies only needed 38, and only needed one reasonable partnership. Hope and Rovman Powell provided that, and Jason Holder applied the necessary touch of urgency at the finish.

Apart from Naib's 51, there was little to cheer for Afghanistan when they batted, and their batsmen played no role in West Indies' only real moments of concern, with Shannon Gabriel and Alzarri Joseph spending brief spells off the field nursing injuries. Gabriel walked off four legal balls into his sixth over, clutching his left side, while Joseph hurt his ankle while stumbling over the advertising hoardings in a failed attempt to flick a hook from Rashid back into play.

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