LUCKNOW, India (CMC) – Elegant stroke-maker Shai Hope carved out a seventh one-day hundred as West Indies completed a rare series whitewash with a five-wicket victory over Afghanistan in the third One-Day International here Monday.
In pursuit of 250 for victory at the Atal Bihari Vajpayee International Stadium, West Indies recovered from a nightmare position of four for two in the third over to reach their target with eight balls to spare.
At the heart of the effort was Hope’s enterprise, the 26-year-old striking a Man-of-the-Match unbeaten 109 off 145 deliveries to control the run chase. The knock saw him end the series with 229 runs at the same average, and move his career average to 50.
Roston Chase, adjudged Man-of-the-Series for his tour average of 72 and six wickets, finished on 42 not out off 32 deliveries while Brandon King hit 39 from 56 balls and captain Kieron Pollard, a quick-fire 26-ball 32.
The result was still somewhat in the balance at 182 for five in the 38th over but Hope and Chase put all doubts to rest in a 71-run, unbroken sixth wicket stand.
Afghanistan had earlier managed their best total of the series when they rallied to 249 for seven off their 50 overs, behind Asghar Afghan’s top score of 86 and an unbeaten 50 from Mohammad Nabi.
Opener Hazratullah Zazai belted a lively 50 off 59 balls while Najibullah Zadran chipped in with a busy 30 off 32 balls down the order.
The hosts were languishing at 118 for five in the 29th over after seamer Keemo Paul ((3-44) hurt the innings with an incisive burst but Asghar and Nabi put on 127 for the sixth wicket, giving West Indies their first real challenge of the series.
Opting to bowl first, the Windies were rewarded in the third over when debutant Ibrahim Zadran missed a flick at a full length delivery from pacer Alzarri Joseph (2-59) and was lbw for two at 15 for one.
Zazai, who struck seven fours and two sixes in a polished knock, then inspired a 30-run second wicket stand with Rahmat Shah (10). They were beginning to stabilise the innings when Rahmat lifted Paul to Nicholas Pooran at deep square in the 10th over.
When Paul removed Ikram Alikhil’s off stump for nine in the 18th over and then had Zazai holing out to deep mid-wicket at 74 for four in the 20th over, Afghanistan were beginning to wobble.
However, Asghar started the turnaround first by anchoring a 44-run fifth wicket stand with Najibullah, before finding a firm ally in Nabi to complete the rescue mission.
All told, Asghar struck three fours and half-dozen sixes while Najibullah counted four fours in a partnership which pushed their side beyond the 100-run mark.
Chase eventually claimed Najibullah to a catch at slip by King in the 29th over as the left-hander defended but Nabi joined Asghar to strike three fours and a six off 66 balls, and frustrate West Indies at the back end.
Asghar finally perished in the penultimate over, slicing Joseph to Romario Shepherd at short third man.
Off-spinner Mujeeb-ur-Rahman then gave Afghanistan a sensational start, trapping both Evin Lewis (1) and Shimron Hetmyer (0) lbw in the space of four balls in the third over of the innings.
Hope remained solid, however, posted a critical 64 with King for the third wicket before adding a further 51 for the fourth with left-hander Nicholas Pooran who made 21.
Circumspect early in his innings, Hope reached his fifty off 76 balls in the 27th over by punching seamer Yamin Ahmadzai to the cover boundary and completed three figures off 133 deliveries in the 44th over, with the Windies all but assured of victory.
Overall, he struck eight fours and three sixes – two of these straight hits coming in the 23rd over from off-spinner Nabi as he raised the tempo of the innings.
When Pooran holed out to long off in the 29th over, West Indies were facing a required run rate of nearly six an over but Pollard entered to crunch a four and a pair of sixes in a 63-run, fifth wicket partnership with Hope, which put the visitors in command.
Against the run of play, Pollard clipped Nabi to Najibullah at short mid-wicket in the 38th over but Chase and Hope quickly settled the issue. – CMC