Roston Chase narrowly missed out on three figures while Shai Hope kept up his heavy scoring in One-Day Internationals with another half-century, as West Indies effortlessly strolled to a seven-wicket victory over Afghanistan in the opening match of the three-match series yesterday.
Asked to chase a modest 195 at the Atal Bihari Vajpayee Stadium, Chase carved out a polished 94 and Hope, an unbeaten 77, to guide West Indies to their third win in seven ODIs against the Afghan side. The Windies were tottering on 25 for two in the eighth over at one stage before Chase and Hope came together in a third wicket stand worth 163, to erase any doubt over the result.
Chase played positively from the outset to hit 11 fours in 115 balls at the crease while Hope emerged from an uncertain start especially against off-spinner Mujeeb-ur-Rahman, to lash five fours in 133 deliveries.
Right-hander Chase looked poised for his maiden ODI hundred but missed a pull at one from Mujeeb and was bowled in the 44th over, with just seven runs required for victory.
West Indies had earlier restricted the hosts to 194 all out in the 46th over after choosing to bowl first, with Rahmat Shah top-scoring with 61 and 19-year-old wicketkeeper Ikram Alikhil carving out 58. With the two cantering along in a third-wicket stand worth 111, Afghanistan looked well poised for a competitive total at 126 for two in the 27th over.
However, once the stand was broken, West Indies controlled the second half of the innings, taking the last eight wickets for 68 runs as fast bowlers Jason Holder (2-21) and Romario Shepherd (2-32), along with Chase (2-31) all claiming two wickets each.
Inspired by Holder, West Indies reduced the hosts to 15 for two in the sixth over after left-arm pacer Sheldon Cottrell bowled Hazratullah Zazai leg-stump for nine in the fifth and Holder forced Javed Ahmadi (5) to edge one to Nicholas Pooran at second slip.
However, Rahmat and Ikram halted the slide in an enterprising stand which frustrated West Indies, and carried Afghanistan past three figures.
The right-handed Rahmat looked a class act in stroking six fours and a six off 80 balls while Ikram produced an identical boundary tally in a 62-ball knock before perishing in bizarre fashion the 27th over.
He grounded his bat at the striker’s end after completing a run to mark Rahmat’s half-century but then ambled out of his crease, apparently to congratulate his partner, before the ball was ruled dead.
Wicketkeeper Hope promptly broke the stumps and Ikram was adjudged run out. Three balls later in the same over, Najibullah Zadran (0) nicked a forward defensive prod at Chase for Holder to take a sharp chance at slip, and suddenly Afghanistan were 126 for four.
Rahmat tried to rebuild in a 26-run, fifth wicket stand with Asghar Afghan, who made 35 off 52 deliveries, but he too fell to Chase, caught at Holder around the corner trying to scoop a delivery in the 33rd over. Debutant Shepherd, whose four-over opening spell cost 25 runs, came back strongly with two wickets at the end as West Indies snared the last six wickets for just 42 runs.
In reply, there were some concerns when Evin Lewis played back to Mujeeb and was trapped lbw on the backfoot in the fifth over for seven and left-hander Shimron Hetmyer (3) nicked a peach of out-swinger from seamer Naveen-ul-Haq to be caught at the wicket three overs later.
But Chase and Hope steadied the innings, first negating the threat posed from Mujeeb and then leg-spinning captain Rashid Khan, before accelerating to ensure the Windies domination.
Hope was the first to his landmark at the end of the 27th over, raising his 14th half-century by working Rashid Khan to the mid-wicket ropes for his fourth boundary. Chase, meanwhile, reached his half-century — only his second in ODIs — at the end of the 31st over when he cut Naveen to point for his fifth four.