Highlights of the week: Rohit Sharma’s landmark ‘century’ and Smriti Mandhana’s superb chase record

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West Indies completed a rare series win by beating Afghanistan comfortably in the second and penultimate ODI at Lucknow to take an unassailable 2-0 lead.

This is the first time since 2014, that the Men in Maroon won an ODI series.

After being asked to bat, West Indies posted 247/9 with Evin Lewis and Nicholas Pooran scoring half-centuries.

Afghanistan lost wickets regularly in the chase and while a 68-run seventh wicket partnership between Najibullah Zadran and Mohammad Nabi offered a glimmer of hope, the bowlers from the Caribbean were able to bowl them out with 26 deliveries and 47 runs to spare.

Windies’ conservative top-order struggles against spin

The top-order of Shai Hope, Evin Lewis, Shimron Hetmeyer and Roston Chase contributed 140 runs off 205 deliveries. Despite their reputation as stroke-makers, the batsmen were exceedingly patient and failed to rotate strike. If it wasn’t for some wayward bowling from the Afghan medium pacer Naveen-ul-Haq, their scoring rate would’ve dropped further. During the course of his 77-ball-44, Shai Hope became only the fifth West Indies batsman to score 1000 ODI runs in a calendar year.

The Afghanistan team had as many as six spinners in their ranks and on a pitch that offered turn and bounce, they were able to stifle the batsmen. From 98 for one in 25 overs, West Indies slipped to 182 for six at the start of the death overs.

Nicolas Pooran to the rescue

While the bottom five of the batting order contributed just 23 runs, Nicholas Pooran stood tall to score 67 runs from 50 deliveries to push the Windies to a respectable total. The southpaw rallied with the tail-enders in the death overs and provided an excellent finish to the innings. Pooran forged a partnership of 50 with Romario Shepherd, in which his partner’s contribution was a mere six runs.  His superb knock included seven boundaries and three sixes.

Consistent Chase among the wickets again

Sheldon Cottrell once again struck in his first over when he held on to a return catch after Javed Ahmadi sliced a pull shot back to the bowler. Hazratullah Zazai and Rahmat Shah added 53 runs for the second wicket to get the chase back on track before their stand was broken by a stunning piece of fielding from Kieron Pollard whose direct hit from cover caught Shah short of the crease at the non-striker’s end.

Image - Cricket Windies/Twitter

Image – Cricket Windies/Twitter

Off-spinner Roston Chase then produced a terrific spell of bowling to swing the game in his team’s favour. He bowled ten overs on the trot and finished with figures of three for 30, dismissing Zazai, Asghar Afghan and Ikram Alikhil. At the end of his spell, Afghanistan had their backs to the wall as they were reduced to 109 for five.

However, there was still some fight left  as Zadran and Nabi batted with purpose to keep the required rate in check. Cottrell, however, returned to break that partnership and thus Afghanistan’s resistance. Leg-spinner Hayden Walsh Jr. helped himself to three of the final four wickets as Windies bowled their opposition out for exactly 200.

The final and third ODI of the series will be played at Lucknow on Monday.

Player of the match : Nicholas Pooran

Brief Scores

West Indies: 247/9 (Pooran 67, Lewis 54; Naveen-ul-Haq 3-60)

Afghanistan: 200 all out (Zadran 56; Chase 3-30, Cottrell 3-29)

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