(ESPN) A star-studded West Indies line-up proved too powerful for their World XI counterparts on an entertaining if one-sided evening at Lord’s, as a quartet of cameos from Evin Lewis, Marlon Samuels, Denesh Ramdin and Andre Russell set up a hefty 72-run victory in the one-off Hurricane Relief T20 Challenge.
With the cricket world rallying round the West Indies, and in particular those islands in the north of the region that were devastated by the twin hurricanes Irma and Maria eight months ago, a crowd of approximately 15,000 witnessed some outstanding feats of big-hitting as well as one or two more eclectic sights – not least the appearance of Nasser Hussain as an on-field “roving reporter” (an experiment from the broadcasters, Sky Sports, who were providing the global feed for the event free of charge).
There was yet another comeback, too, for cricket’s very own Frank Sinatra, Shahid Afridi – who, due to the official T20I status of the match, was featuring in his 99th such contest, more than two years after his previous retirement at Mohali in March 2016.
This time, and probably for the first time, Afridi looked like a player for whom there was no coming back, as he creaked through four overs of geriatric, if effective, legspin. And inevitably, he still managed to pull it off like the showman he has always been. His second ball drew Andre Fletcher down the track then spun past his edge for a simple stumping, whereupon Afridi embarked on that familiar star-shaped celebration, just as he had done on this very ground in 2009, after hitting the winning runs in the World T20 final.
The hitting, on this occasion, was largely restricted to the West Indians – most particularly Evin Lewis at the top of the order, who left his opening partner, Chris Gayle, for dead in rattling along to 58 from 26 balls with five fours and five sixes
Rashid Khan eventually pinned Lewis lbw with the third ball of his spell, but Gayle at the other end was never allowed to get going. In particular he was flummoxed by the fierce pace and cunning change-ups of Tymal Mills, who did not concede a single run until his 11th delivery, by which stage he had also struck Gayle a glancing blow on the helmet for good measure. But sadly for Mills, who has had terrible luck with injury, he was unable to complete his spell after leaving the field with a quad strain, and he did not come out to bat either.
Gayle was finally bowled by Shoaib Malik for 18 from 28, whereupon Samuels marched onto centre stage with a fusillade of sixes – two in two balls off Malik, and a gargantuan mow down the ground to welcome the Nepalese legspinner, Sandeep Lamichhane, to Lord’s. Ramdin joined the fun with 44 not out from 25, as did Russell to spectacular effect in the penultimate over – three massive sixes took Rashid for an eye-watering 24 runs.
In reply, the World XI spluttered under the floodlights. Before they’d found their bearings they’d been reduced to 8 for 4, with Samuel Badree scalping Luke Ronchi and Denesh Karthik for ducks in his opening over, either side of Russell seeing off the openers, Tamim Iqbal and Sam Billings.
Thisara Perera wasn’t done yet, however, and his 28-ball half-century kept the crowd entertained in the gloom – as did some comical running between the wickets when Afridi, limping with a knee injury, appeared at five-down with Billings alongside him as a runner. Officially, runners are no longer permitted in full international fixtures, but the ICC were happy in the circumstances to give him special dispensation. After all, the night was about much more than just cricket.
C Gayle b Shoaib Malik 18
E Lewis lbw b Rashid Khan 58
A Fletcher st Ronchi b Shahid Afridi 7
M Samuels c Perera b Rashid Khan 43
+D Ramdin not out 44
A Russell not out 21
Extras (w5, lb3) 8
TOTAL (4 wkts, 20 overs) 199
Fall of wickets: 1-75, 2-87, 3-100, 4-152.
Did not bat: *C Brathwaite, K Paul, A Nurse, S Badree, K Williams.
Bowling: McClenaghan 3-0-31-0, Mills 3-1-13-0, Shoaib Malik 3-0-31-1, Perera 2-0-27-0, Rashid Khan 4-0-48-2, Shahid Afridi 4-0-34-1, Lamichhane 1-0-12-0.
Tamim Iqbal c Lewis b Russell 2
+L Ronchi lbw b Badree 0
S Billings c Brathwaite b Russell 4
D Karthik c Lewis b Badree 0
Shoaib Malik lbw b Brathwaite 12
T Perera c & b Williams 61
*Shahid Afridi c Nurse b Paul 11
Rashid Khan lbw b Williams 9
M McClenaghan c Nurse b Williams 9
S Lamichhane not out 4
T Mills absent out
Extras (b4, lb4, w7) 15
TOTAL (all out, 16.4 overs) 127
Fall of wickets: 1-4, 2-8, 3-8, 4-8, 5-45, 6-93, 7-101, 8-108, 9-127, 10-127.
Bowling: Badree 3-1-4-2, Russell 3-0-25-2, Williams 3.4-0-41-3, Paul 3-0-24-1, Brathwaite 2-0-14-1, Nurse 2-0-11-0.
Result: West Indies won by 72 runs.
Man-of-the-Match: Evin Lewis.
Toss: World XI.
Umpires: A Wharf, R Bailey