Favourites West Indies failed in their bid to put the finishing touches on an otherwise successful campaign as memeses Afghanistan trounced them by seven wickets yesterday to lift the ICC World Cup Qualifiers trophy.
Hoping for revenge in the final at Harare Sports Club after two losses in the competition to the Asian side, West Indies never mounted a serious challenge, dismissed for 204 and then watching as Afghanistan strolled to their target with nearly 10 overs remaining.
Opting to bat first, the Caribbean side were coasting at 73 for two in the 18th over before slumping to lose their last eight wickets for 131 runs.
All-rounder Rovman Powell top-scored with 44, left-hander Shimron Hetmyer chipped in with 38 while Evin Lewis got 27 and Ashley Nurse struck an unbeaten 26 towards the end.
Sixteen-year-old off-spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman was again brilliant with the new ball, taking four for 43 while seamer Gulbadin Naib picked up two for 28.
Man-of-the-Match Mohammad Shahzad then took the game from the Windies with a typically aggressive 84 off 93 balls, as Aghanistan dominated the early stages of the innings to put the result beyond doubt.
Rahmat Shah weighed in with 51 while Mohammed Nabi arrived with victory already in sight to blast a cameo unbeaten 27, ending the contest in style with three successive sixes down the ground off part-time off-spinner Chris Gayle.
The victory completed a fairy-tale turnaround for the Phil Simmons-coached side who had barely squeezed into the second stage of the tournament after winning just a single match in the preliminaries.
Man-of-the-Series award a ‘painful reminder’
Meanwhile, Heartbroken allrounder Sikandar Raza used his platform while accepting his Man-of-the-Series award yesterday and said the honour is a “painful reminder” of how Zimbabwe could not make it to the 2019 World Cup, which will feature 10 teams compared to 14 teams of the 2015 event.
After accepting the award at the post-match presentation, one that included ICC chief executive David Richardson, following Afghanistan’s win over West Indies in the final, Raza poured out his emotions while also throwing his support behind the Associates teams.
“Certainly, not happy at all,” Raza said in response to commentator Pommie Mbangwa asking if he was “happy” with the award. “I think this trophy will serve as a painful reminder of the dreams that we had and we couldn’t get it done. This trophy will also serve as a reminder for the 15 million dreams that we crushed.
“When I started playing cricket, I thought it was to unite countries, players of different background coming together to play this beautiful sport. Unfortunately, you’ll see that’s not going to happen in next year’s World Cup. It’s certainly quite a tough pill to swallow.”
After winning two of their four matches in the Super Sixes stage of the tournament, Zimbabwe had to win what turned out to be their last match, against UAE, to seal a World Cup berth along with West Indies.
They restricted UAE to 235 for 7 in 47.5 overs but a rain interruption revised Zimbabwe’s target to 230 from only 40 overs. Zimbabwe came agonisingly close to lose by only three runs.
Rather than reflect on his own performances during the tournament, which included 319 runs at 53.17, a team-best 15 wickets at 17.60 and three Man-of-the-Match awards, Raza went on to praise the hard work of some of the Associate teams and captains who also bowed out of the tournament.
Afghanistan vs West Indies
– ICC final
WEST INDIES Innings
C Gayle c Ashraf b Ur Rahman 10
E Lewis c wkp Shahzad b G. Naib 27
S Hope lbw b Khan 23
M Samuels c Shah b G. Naib 17
S Hetmyer c Shahzad b Ashraf 38
J Holder run out 0
R Powell b Mujeeb Ur Rahman 44
C Brathwaite c Stanikzai b Zadran 14
A Nurse not out 26
K Paul lbw b Ur Rahman 0
K Roach b Ur Rahman 0
Extras: (lb2, w3) 5
TOTAL: (all out, 46.5 overs) 204
Fall of wickets: 1-16,
2-50, 3-73, 4-99,
5-101, 6-138, 7-163,
8-204, 9-204, 10-204.
Bowling: Zadran 7-0-26-1,
Ur Rahman 9.5-0-43-4,
M. Nabi 9-1-37-0,
M. Shahzad c Holder b Gayle 84
G. Naib c Gayle b Paul 14
R. Shah st Hope b Gayle 51
S. Shenwari not out 20
M. Nabi not out 27
Extras: (lb2, w8) 10
TOTAL: (3 wkts, 40.4 overs) 206
Fall of wickets: 1-58, 2-148, 3-170.
Did not bat: Asghar Stanikzai,
Najibullah Zadran, Rashid Khan,
Dawlat Zadran, Mujeeb Ur Rahman.
Bowling: Roach 5-0-24-0,
Result: Afghanistan won by seven wickets.
Series: Afghanistan win ICC World Cup Qualifiers.
Man-of-the-Match: Mohammad Shahzad.
Man-of-the-Series: Sikandar Raza.
Toss: West Indies.
Umpires: M Gough, S Fry; TV – P Wilson. (CMC)