BASSETERRE, St Kitts, CMC – West Indies lacked the clinical edge but still did enough to breeze past minnows Afghanistan by six wickets in the opening Twenty20 International here Friday night, and take a 1-0 lead in the three-match series.
Asked to bowl first at Warner Park, the Windies restricted the Afghans for a paltry 110 off their 20 overs, with off-spinner Sunil Narine claiming three for 11 and seamers Carlos Brathwaite (2-16) and Kesrick Williams (2-19) picking up two wickets apiece.
The 18-year-old Rashid Khan, batting at number seven, top-scored with 33 off 27 while number 10 Amir Hamza chipped in with 21. However, they were the only two to pass 20 and only two of three in double figures.
With the visitors slumping quickly at 58 for eight in the 14th over, they came together to rescue the innings in a ninth-wicket stand of 36.
In reply, West Indies suffered a few hiccups in losing four wickets but still got home with time, effort and 21 balls to spare.
Veteran right-hander Marlon Samuels struck a top score of 35 from 36 deliveries while openers Evin Lewis (26) and Chadwick Walton (22) both got starts but failed to carry on.
Rashid Khan proved a handful with his leg-spin conceding just 14 runs from his four overs and taking one wicket but was unable to make major inroads into the innings.
Fast bowler Kesrick Williams celebrates one of his two wickets during the opening Twenty20 International against Afghanistan at Warner Park on Friday night. (Photo courtesy CWI Media)
Beaten the last time the two teams met at last year’s T20 World Cup in India, West Indies ensured there was no such embarrassment this time around, even though their batsmen made heavy weather of an uncomplicated target.
Lewis and Walton looked at ease as they gave West Indies a handy starting by putting on 33 of 21 balls for the first wicket.
Walton had struck five fours in a 15-ball knock when he pulled left-arm seamer Shapoor Zadran low to mid-wicket where Usman Ghani held the catch.
The left-handed Lewis, who clobbered three sixes and a four off 16 balls, put on a further 30 for the second wicket with Samuels before holing out in the deep on the leg-side off an innocuous delivery from medium pacer Karim Janat.
Lendl Simmons (6) never got the measure of Rashid Khan and after clearing the ropes back overhead with the bowler, missed a swipe at the next delivery and was bowled in the ninth over.
Samuels looked in great touch, smashing the fourth ball he received from left-arm spinner Amir Hamza for a giant six over long on before slapping Janat for an imperious off-side boundary and then another huge leg-side six, off back-to-back balls in the eighth over.
He should have been there at the end but also gifted his wicket, missing a wild swing at Shapoor on the seamer’s return for a final spell, and was spectacularly bowled off the first ball of the 15th over.
Jason Mohammed, completely bemused by Rashid Khan and put down on one at slip by captain Asghar Stanikzai, then held his nerve to see the Windies to victory with 18 not out.
Earlier, the Windies had a great start when leg-spinner Samuel Badree bowled opener Gulbadin Naib for 12 in the fourth over at 21 for one and Usman Ghani was run out for eight in a terrible mix up in the following over with five runs added.
Wickets then fell steadily and when Narine struck twice in the 12th over to remove Samiullah Shenwari (7) and Shafiqullah (0), and then prised out Najibullah Zadran (4) in his following over, Afghanistan were against the ropes.
But Rashid Khan rallied the innings, belting two fours and two sixes as the visitors gathered 48 runs from the last five overs.