West Indies dominate World XI in charity game

The cricketing world came together to raise funds to rebuild cricket facilities across the Caribbean that were damaged by last year’s hurricanes as a Shahid Afridi-led ICC World XI took on Windies in a Twenty20 International match at Lord’s.

The game itself had some great moments, but the contest was one-sided with the Windies emerging victorious by 72 runs as the ICC World XI stumbled in their chase of 200.

It was a tale of two ends at the start of the Windies innings as Evin Lewis got off to an absolute flier and Chris Gayle struggled to find the middle of the bat. Lewis raced to 50 from just 23 balls as he flayed the World XI bowlers to all parts. Gayle was much more sedate, at one point batting out a maiden over from Tymal Mills.

Lewis eventually went to the bowling of Rashid Khan, lbw for 58 from 26 balls. The opening stand was worth 75 runs and Gayle contributed just 13 to that partnership. Gayle did not last too much longer, bowled by Shoaib Malik for 18 after a 28-ball innings that contained just one boundary.

Afridi brought himself into the attack and found immediate success. A floated leg-spinner did for Fletcher (7) when the batsman charged down the pitch and was easily stumped by Luke Ronchi.

While three wickets in the space of 25 runs could have slowed down the Windies, Marlon Samuels had other ideas. He saw out two dot balls from Malik before getting off the mark with back-to-back sixes. Samuels went for a very well-made 43 from 22 balls when he holed out going for another big six off the bowling of Rashid Khan.

That left it up to Andre Russell, playing his first international since 2016 after returning from a ban, and Denesh Ramdin to finish the innings as they looked to get Windies to an above-par total – and they did just that. The two batsmen put on 47 runs from just 19 balls as they took apart the death bowling from the ICC World XI. The Windies innings finished on 199/4, a total that proved to more than enough to win this game.

The chase was over almost as it began as a team replete with some of the best cricketers in the world found themselves 8/4 in the fourth over with Samuel Badree and Andre Russell taking two wickets each.

There was a recovery from there, with Thisara Perera and Shoaib Malik taking the score to 45/5 when Malik was pinned lbw for 12 off the bowling of Carlos Brathwaite. That brought Shahid Afridi to the crease, batting with a runner after the Windies and the ICC agreed to loosen the playing conditions for this international, in keeping with the charity spirit.

Perera finished as top-scorer for the World XI with 61 from 37 balls as he made his second T20I fifty, bringing up the landmark from just 28 balls.

While Perera struggled on manfully, wickets continued to fall at the other end. Afridi managed just 11 from 12 balls before he was caught in the deep off the bowling of Keemo Paul. The World XI could have lost Rashid Khan almost straight away, but Andre Fletcher couldn’t hang on to a tough catch diving forwards.

While that catch couldn’t be taken, Kesrick Williams took a far more difficult chance off his own bowling to get rid of Perera. The ball was top edged over his head and he took a spectacular catch over his shoulder.

From there the World XI innings petered out with the final wicket falling for the addition of just 19 runs with Tymal Mills unavailable to bat due to injury.

Though the game wasn’t a nail-biter, it was thoroughly enjoyable to watch, the crowd and players enjoying a carnival atmosphere as two teams engaged in some competitive cricket, but always kept in mind the bigger picture of what they were playing for.