Marlon Samuels’ highest score in T20Is, an unbeaten 66-ball 89, steered West Indies to a whitewash-sealing seven-wicket win at Warner Park. Afghanistan, who were bowled out for 110 and 93 in the first two T20Is, put up their best batting display of the series, but a total of 146 wasn’t quite enough to challenge West Indies’ line-up.
Jerome Taylor bowled the first over of the match from around the wicket, and his angle across the right-handed Noor Ali Zadran produced four straight plays and misses. A cover-driven boundary at the end of the over settled Noor’s nerves, though, and his next 12 balls produced two sixes and four more fours, including three in a row in Taylor’s second over.
Afghanistan raced to 40 for 1 by the end of the fourth over, but Noor’s departure in the fifth – bowled by Kesrick Williams after moving too far across his stumps, and too early – slowed them down considerably. Williams, Carlos Brathwaite and Samuel Badree sent down tight post-Powerplay overs, making a clear effort to bowl straight and deny hitting room, and by the end of the 10th over Afghanistan were only 61 for 3.
The next 10 overs, though, brought a far healthier 85. Sunil Narine, bowling his four overs on the trot from the 12th onwards, was typically frugal, conceding only 27 runs and one boundary, but Afghanistan showed off their hitting power against the quicker bowlers at the other end. Nabi hit two big sixes, Shafiqullah smacked Williams over midwicket and out of Warner Park in the 19th over – before hitting the next two balls for four – and Gulbadin Naib, who only got to face five balls, managed to send one pick-up shot off Taylor sailing over the square leg boundary. In all, Afghanistan scored 55 off the last five overs of seam.
As was the case in the second T20I, Afghanistan only played one genuine fast bowler, with Shapoor Zadran taking Dawlat Zadran’s place, and his only seam support came from Karim Janat, the allrounder. Janat did not have the greatest game – he scored 8 off 17, batting at No. 5, and then conceded 41 off his four overs, bowling a length that was too short for his limited pace. Selection apart, there were tactical errors too – such as waiting until the 11th over to bring on their best bowler, Rashid Khan – and one very costly fielding lapse.
It came in the 10th over, when Nabi, having got the ball to stop on Samuels, dropped a straightforward return catch. Samuels, at that point, was batting on 40 off 32 balls. Nabi pinned Evin Lewis lbw in the same over to end a 61-run second-wicket stand, but it was Samuels who had been hurting Afghanistan the most, clearing his front leg and getting into position to flat-bat anywhere in the arc between point and midwicket.
Lendl Simmons replaced Lewis and made a brisk, attractive 15 before slicing Rashid to long-off, and a small window seemed to open up for Afghanistan, with West Indies needing 65 off 43 at that point. Samuels, though, quickly reduced the gap between runs required and balls remaining, picking up two pulled fours in the next two overs before clattering successive leg-side sixes off Nabi in the 16th. With Jason Mohammed showing off his hitting power as well – a sliced six over point off Janat the highlight of his innings – West Indies strolled home with four balls remaining. (Courtesy ESPN Ciricinfo)