HARARE: Afghanistan kept their hopes alive for a place in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 when they defeated the West Indies by three wickets in Harare on Thursday. Afghanistan restricted West Indies to 197 for 8 in 50 overs on a good batting surface and then achieved the target with 14 balls to spare. The feature of Afghanistan’s win, which gave them a 2-1 lead in four head-to-head matches against the West Indies, was their four-pronged spin attack that included wrist-spinner Rashid Khan, off-spinners Mohammad Nabi and Mujeeb Rahman, and left-arm spinner Sharafuddin Ashraf. The slow bowlers bowled 39 overs between them in which they conceded 138 runs and snapped up seven wickets.
Mujeeb was the most successful bowler with three for 33, while Nabi bagged two for 43, including the wicket of Marlon Samuels for his 100th ODI scalp. The slow bowlers were well supported by some outstanding fielding in the deep as the West Indies batsmen tried to break the shackles but only managed to find the alert Afghanistan fields. Shai Hope was the top scorer with 43, while his 50-run fifth-wicket partnership with Jason Holder (28) was the highest of the West Indies’ innings. Afghanistan, in turn, were wobbling at 17 for two but Rehmat Shah (68) first rebuilt the innings with Samiullah Shenwari (27) and then with Nabi (31). But Nabi’s departure created some panic in the Afghanistan camp as they slipped to 168 for six in the 44th over, but Rashid Khan ensured victory with three wickets for 14 balls to spare by scoring 13 invaluable runs.
Afghanistan 198-7 in 47.4 overs (Rahmat Shah 68, Mohammad Nabi 31, Samiullah Shenwari 27; Jason Holder 3-39, Keemo Paul 2/29) beat West Indies 197-8 in 50 overs (Shai Hope 43, Marlon Samuels 36, Jason Holder 28, Evin Lewis 27; Mujeeb Rahman 3-33, Mohammad Nabi 2/43) by three wickets.