T20 World Cup: Pooran’s explosive 98 take WI to 104-run win over Afghanistan

PTI, Jun 18, 2024, 11:01 AM IST

Credit: PTI

Gros Islet (St Lucia): Nicholas Pooran displayed his incredible six-hitting prowess as West Indies geared up for the Super 8 with a dominating 104-run win over Afghanistan in their final Group C match of the T20 World Cup here.

With both teams assured of a Super 8 berth, it was the two-time champions who displayed their batting might, amassing a formidable 218 for five, with Pooran going on a six-hitting spree during his 53-ball 98. It was the highest total for the West Indies in T20 World Cups.

In reply, Afghanistan succumbed to scoreboard pressure, managing just 114 in 16.2 overs.

“We knew here will be one of the better wickets of the competition. After Guyana and Trinidad, the batters wanted to come here and get runs. (Pooran) I think it is on the back of hard work. He has had a very good 12 months. Good to see him score runs not only in franchise cricket but also for WI,” West Indies skipper Rovman Powell said at the post match presentation ceremony.

Afghanistan had bundled out their opponents for sub-100 totals in their first three games but skipper Rashid Khan’s decision to bowl first here backfired as Pooran put on a ruthless display, hitting as many as 8 maximums and 6 fours during his stay.

Opener Johnson Charles (43), Shai Hope (25) and Powell (26) also contributed with the bat as WI posted the highest total of this edition of T20 World Cup.

Gulbadin Naib (2/14) was the top bowler for Afghanistan, claiming two wickets in his 2 overs.

With the bat, opener Ibrahim Zadran (38), Azmatullah Omarzai (23) and Karim Janat (14) tried their bit but it proved too huge a total in the end.

“Don’t think so (this big loss will affect us). We’ve achieved what we wanted – to get Super Eight. The different pitches coming up… we’ll adjust to them. Good learning this loss happened at this stage, not in a do-or-die game. We take the positives with us, like fielding and middle-overs bowling,” Rashid said.

Earlier, West Indies lost opener Brandon King in the second over but hosts scored heavily in the first five overs and the last five overs.

Pooran turned on the heat in the fourth over, collecting 36-runs off Azmatullah Omarzai’s bowling – 6, 5NB, 5WD, 0, 4LB, 4, 6, 6. It was the joint most expensive over in T20Is.

The wicketkeeper batter and Charles took the hosts to 92/1 at the six-over mark, the biggest Powerplay total in men’s T20 World Cup history.

“You don’t want to be on 97 and get run-out but it was all about reaching a respectable total. I assessed the conditions early on, we had a good start in the powerplay, I had to take the responsibility in the middle overs with the Afghanistan spinners bowling,” ‘Player of the Match’ Pooran said.

Afghanistan really didn’t recover from the onslaught as after pacer Naveen-Ul-Haq dismissed the Charles, Pooran continued his hitting spree with Hopes and Powell playing second fiddle.

In the 18th over, Pooran launched into Rashid, smacking him for three maximums and a four for a 24-run over.

During his innings Pooran surpassed Chris Gayle (124 sixes) as West Indies’ most decorated T20I six-hitter. The left-hander was eventually run-out in the last over.

Chasing the huge total, Afghanistan never looked comfortable as they lost in-form Rahmanullah Gurbaz (0) in the first over.

Zadran kept the scoreboard ticking but he couldn’t really take on the Windies attack as Gudakesh Motie (2/28) and Obed McCoy struck thrice in two overs to put Afghanistan under pressure.

Wickets kept tumbling due to scoreboard pressure as most batters perished while trying for big hits.

The hosts will face England in their Super 8 Group 2 match, while Afghanistan will be up against India at Barbados on Thursday.

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