Rashid Khan continues to befuddle batsmen in another part of the world after an impressive first season at the IPL. Just hours after the cricketing world witnessed a remarkable 224 run partnership from Bangladesh to knock out New Zealand out of the Champions Trophy, Rashid Khan recorded the fourth best bowling figures in ODI history of 7/18 for Afghanistan against West Indies at the Darren Sammy National Cricket Stadium in St. Lucia to script another historic victory. Rashid’s bowling figures was the second best in ODIs by a spinner behind Shahid Afridi’s 7/12 against the same opposition.
West Indies were in pursuit of a target of 213 runs on sluggish track and tried to steadily build their innings scoring 68 off the 22 overs for the loss of two wickets. However, this also meant they had played themselves into the hands of the Afghanistan team’s plans of bringing on their premier bowler, Rashid Khan into the game in the later part of the innings to choke the runs and induce a batting collapse. And that is exactly what happened as the young leg spinner was on a hattrick twice in his opening two overs after coming on to bowl the 23rd over.
Jason Mohammed, his first victim for the match, was out caught at slip on the first delivery Rashid bowled which just about straightened outside off to induce the outside edge. Roston Chase, fresh from his test match heroics against Pakistan, was too late to read a googly and was adjudged out lbw for a golden duck on the very next ball. His next over was almost an action replay as Shai Hope knicked a leg break to Nabi who plucked the ball out of thin air diving at slip and followed it up again by a ripping googly, but this time the ball sneaked completely past Jason Holder to ping the stumps. From 68-2, the West Indies were reduced to 70-6. Soon, he picked up his fifth scalp by trapping Ashely Nurse in front of the stumps. When Rashid returned for his second spell West Indies had managed to get themselves to 144-8 but with the required run rate reaching 7 an over, the result of the match was headed only one way and he completed the formalities by picking up the last two wickets in two overs to finish with figures of 8.4-1-18-7.
The Afghanistan innings was set up by opener Javed Ahmadi who scored 81 runs off 102 balls after facing a stern test of short pitched bowling attack from Shannon Gabriel and Alzarri Joseph. He held one end till the 36th over when he got dismissed leaving Afghanistan in a precarious position at 131-4. The last surge came from Gulbadin Naib and Mohammad Nabi who put on a 58-run partnership for the eighth wicket to push the score to 212-6 after 50 overs. Gulbadin Naib played a crucial knock of 41 runs off just 21 balls taking 36 runs off Jason Holder’s last three overs.
The total did not seem to be a threatening one at the half way mark, only to be made to look like a mountain of runs by the brilliance of the Afghanistan bowlers and lack of application from the West Indian batsmen. The West Indian team that looks short of experience and character, will have to pull up their socks and almost play out of their skins to win the three match ODI series from here.