Afghans bid to sign off in style against Windies
West Indies’ captain Darren Sammy said his team would have a party after qualifying for the semi-finals with their third straight win of the tournament on Friday — a nervy last over victory against South Africa.
So with their opponents’ eyes already on next week’s last four showdown against either India or Australia, the conditions are ripe for Afghanistan to spring an upset in their last match of the tournament.
Afghanistan have won new admirers in India with their aggressive and carefree brand of cricket that has caused some anxious moments for their opponents.
They gave South Africa a fright last weekend when they raced to 105 for two in pursuit of the Proteas’ total of 210, although they were ultimately beaten comfortably after a flurry of wickets.
They also reduced England to 85 for seven at one stage on Wednesday before Moeen Ali spared his team’s blushes with a late cameo.
Afghanistan have yet to be beat one of cricket’s big guns but leg-spinner Rashid Khan said they would become more competitive if they get more game time against top opposition.
“When we play more international matches then the improvement will come,” he said after the England match.
“The only thing is, we have to play more matches against these teams.”
Afghanistan’s progress in the last few years has been one of cricket’s feel-good stories but after the highs of competing in last year’s 50 over World Cup and the World T20, they have no fixtures against major teams on the horizon once they leave India.
A victory over the West Indies would consolidate their place in the top 10 of the T20 international rankings and increase their chances of being invited to play more matches.
Rashid is part of a four-pronged spin attack that should relish a Nagpur pitch that turned alarmingly in India’s opener against New Zealand and was still a challenge for the West Indies and South African batsmen on Friday.
After just getting over the line against South Africa, West Indies skipper Darren Sammy indicated his team would let their hair down.
“We are really going to celebrate this win because it was a really tough game,” said Sammy, who will ponder whether to give some unused squad members a run-out.
West Indies (from): Darren Sammy (captain), Samuel Badree, Sulieman Benn, Carlos Braithwaite, Dwayne Bravo, Johnson Charles, Andre Fletcher, Chris Gayle, Jason Holder, Ashley Nurse, Denesh Ramdin, Andre Russell, Marlon Samuels, Jerome Taylor, Evin Lewis.
Afghanistan (from): Asghar Stanikzai (captain), Amir Hamza, Dawlat Zadran, Gulbadin Naib, Hamid Hassan, Karim Sadiq, Mohammad Nabi, Mohammad Shahzad, Najibullah Zadran, Noor Ali Zadran, Rashid Khan, Samiullah Shenwari, Shafiqullah Shafiq, Shapoor Zadran, Usman Ghani