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West Indies and Pakistan win thrilling encounters

Saturday 30 October 2021 | Written by Rahul Patil | Published in Cricket, Sports


West Indies and Pakistan win thrilling encounters
Asif Ali plays a shot during the Cricket Twenty20 World Cup match between Pakistan and Afghanistan in Dubai, UAE, on Friday. AP/21102948

West Indies registered their first win of the tournament defeating Bangladesh whereas Pakistan continued their winning streak by beating Afghanistan.

Game 11

West Indies 142 for 7 (Pooran 40, Chase 39, Shoriful 2/20) beat Bangladesh 139 for 5 (Liton 44, Mahmudullah 31*, Holder 1 for 22) by three runs.

Both teams were desperate to win this game to stay alive in the tournament and until the final delivery was bowled, all three results were possible. Bangladesh did most things right for 75 per cent of the West Indies innings. They won the toss and following the template of the tournament asked West Indies to bat first.

For the first 15 overs, they managed to strangle the big hitting West Indians lineup to a modest 84 for 4. But in the next five overs, the West Indies batters plundered 58 runs to reach a fighting total of 142 on a slow Sharjah pitch. Destroyer in chief was Nicholas Pooran (man of the match) who made the most of a missed stumping chance when he was on 2 and scored 40 of 22 balls including four massive sixes. He also captained the West Indies in the second half of the game when regular captain Kieron Pollard could not field due to an injury he sustained while batting. Pooran is an extremely gifted free flowing left hander. When he is on song, he makes batting look supremely easy and no boundary in the world is big enough for him to clear. If only he can add a touch of consistency to his talent his stocks in international and franchise cricket will rise dramatically.

Like the West Indies Bangladesh too struggled to get out of the blocks and crawled to 90 for 4 at the end of the 14th over. That’s when Liton Das and captain Mahmudullah started picking up the pace and at the start of the 20th over with Mahmudullah still at the crease Bangladesh required 13 to win the game. The Jamaican all-rounder Andre Russell was entrusted to bowl the last over and he delivered yorker after yorker with pace and pin point accuracy to take West Indies home by a narrow margin of three runs. A special mention must also go to Jason Holder. The gifted Barbados all-rounder was initially left out of the West Indies squad and only came in as a replacement for the injured Obed McCoy. Picked in this game he played a cameo with the bat (15 of 5 balls) and also bowled his quota of 4 overs for 22 while picking up a wicket.

With this result the West Indies have kept their semifinal hopes alive whereas Bangladesh’s chances of progressing in the tournament are pretty much over.

Game 12

Pakistan 148 for 5 (Babar 51, Asif 25*, Rashid 2/26) beat Afghanistan 147 for 6 (Naib 35*, Imad 2/25) by five wickets

Although compared to Pakistan, Afghanistan are infants in international cricket but such has been their rise in the T20 format that they can definitely give all the big sides a run for their money. The hype and interest around this game was so high that Rashid Khan, the Afghani star, made an appeal to all fans asking them to enjoy the game in a peaceful and orderly manner.

Afghanistan broke the norm by winning the toss and batting first on a good Dubai wicket. They knew that in order to put the Pakistan batting line up under pressure and to bring their spinners into the game they had to get a big total. They started off all guns blazing but kept losing wickets at regular intervals. At 70 for 6 in the 13th over they were in real trouble but then captain cool Mohammed Nabi and Gulbadin Naib stitched together a partnership which began slowly and finished with a flourish. 36 came of overs 18 and 19 which gave Afghanistan a fighting total of 147.

Star of the last match Mujeeb once again bowled beautifully and gave Afghanistan a great start. He picked up the crucial wicket of man in form Mohammed Rizwan while conceding just 14 runs of his 4 overs. Through some tight bowling and fielding, Afghanistan never let any of the Pakistan batters get away and the scoring rate was always kept in check. For Pakistan, captain Babar Azam held one end up scoring a run a ball for 50. But once the wily Rashid Khan dismissed him of the last ball of his magnificent spell, Afghanistan were in with a chance. That chance became very likely when Naveen-ul-Haq bowled an excellent 18th over leaving Pakistan to get 24 of the last two overs. In walked the finisher and man of the match Asif Ali. Staying cool as a cucumber he hit 4 massive sixes in the 19th over to ensure a third victory for Pakistan in as many matches. Pakistan have invested a lot into Asif. This was his 52nd international game for Pakistan but until the last couple of games he hadn’t delivered to his potential on the international stage. But Pakistan’s investment in him is definitely paying off rich dividends in this World Cup and all the other teams will be now making plans to counter his big hitting at the death. Pakistan’s place is the semifinals is almost certain now whereas Afghanistan will be disappointed at missing the opportunity to register a win over their neighbours and arch rivals.