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Afghanistan

Rattled Afghanistan seek revival as format changes

Afg v WI, 1st T20I, preview

West Indies might've whitewashed Afghanistan 3-0 in the ODI series, but they can't undermine the capabilities of the Rashid Khan-led side, who are currently placed two spots higher than they are in the MRF Tyres ICC T20I Team Rankings.

Overview

Afghanistan v West Indies, 1st T20I
Ekana International Cricket Stadium, Lucknow
Thursday, 14 November; 07:00pm local, 12:30am GMT

Afghanistan's five-wicket defeat in the third and final ODI not only completed a series whitewash, but also marked their 12th successive defeat in the format. They now have a great chance to redeem themselves in the T20I format, where they won twelve straight games, before suffering two defeats in the tri-series in Bangladesh, which they eventually went on to share with the hosts, after the rain-abandoned final.

While bowling is still their strongest suit, led by the ever-reliable Rashid Khan, who tops the MRF Tyres ICC T20I Bowling Rankings chart, not to forget the ninth-placed Mujeeb-Ur-Rehman and the top-ranked all-rounder Mohammad Nabi, it's the batting that has let Afghanistan down during the last few months. A solid start might set them on course, and Hazratullah Zazai, the left-handed opener, could be the man to do it, much like he did during his enterprising 162* against Ireland in February this year.

West Indies, on the other hand, will be pleased with the contributions of all-rounder Roston Chase, who excelled on either front, aggregating 145 runs and bagging six wickets from three games. While Evin Lewis still holds the key at the top, Brandon King, the Jamaican dasher, will be closely looked at, as he comes off a glorious run in the Caribbean Premier League, having topped the run charts with 496 runs at an average of 55.11, including a match-winning hundred in the Qualifier.

West Indies might be the current title holders of the ICC Men's T20 World Cup, but their recent form in the format, where they've lost 17 of the last 20 games, has seen them slip to the tenth position in the MRF Tyres ICC T20I Rankings. Can the new and dynamic leader in Kieron Pollard mark the beginning of a revival?

Remember the last time

Having already lost the series with back-to-back defeats in previous games, Afghanistan could manage only 146/6 after having opted to bat in the third and final T20I, during their bilateral tour of the Caribbean in May-June 2017. Noor Ali Zadran (35), Mohammad Nabi (38) and Shafiqullah Shafiq (25) got starts, but all fell to right-arm pacer Kesrick Williams, who starred with 3/34 from his four overs.

West Indies lost opener Chadwick Walton on the second ball of the chase, but looked in no trouble thereafter, as they rode on Marlon Samuels' unbeaten 89 to complete a comfortable seven-wicket win in the final over.

What they said

Rashid Khan, Afghanistan captain: "We have to focus on doing the right things, and making the right decisions at the right time. T20 is all about enjoyment, and we have to keep enjoying, whether in batting, bowling or fielding. The results will take care of themselves."

Kieron Pollard, West Indies captain: "We came here with some sort of ambition about how we want to play cricket and the guys responded well. Winning is a habit, we want to follow the process again and again. There is some method in everything we do. Sometimes it will work and sometimes it won't work."

Conditions

Weather is expected to get a bit cooler during the evening, with only minimal cloud cover expected, if any at all. Change of pace might as well prove vital on a pitch that showed signs of slowing down progressively during the three ODIs.

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