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Rahkeem Cornwall

Brooks, Cornwall put West Indies in sight of big win

Afg v WI, 1st Test, day two, report

Shamarh Brooks struck his maiden century, in his third Test, and Rahkeen Cornwall completed his maiden 10-wicket match-haul, in his second game, to put West Indies within sight of a comfortable win over Afghanistan in the only Test in Lucknow.


Brooks’ century helped West Indies ascend to a 90-run first-innings lead, before they struck seven times in 36 overs to leave Afghanistan on 109/7 in the second innings, with a slender lead of 19 runs.

Standing tall amidst the ruins for Afghanistan was Amir Hamza, who snared a five-wicket haul on debut. He was the first to strike on the second day, when John Campbell pre-meditated a lap sweep and lobbed the ball up towards the leg gully region after failing to connect properly on the shot. Ihsanullah, who had moved to his right at first slip, in anticipation of the shot, sprang across to complete a brilliant catch and end a third-wicket stand of 82.

That wicket upset a sequence of four, six and four in the previous over, by Brooks off the bowling of Afghanistan captain Rashid Khan. The home team’s spinners continued to make inroads thereafter, as West Indies lost half their side while still trailing. But Brooks rallied with wicket-keeper Shane Dowrich for a 74-run sixth-wicket stand to take West Indies ahead.

Dowrich cracked his third ball, off left-arm wrist-spinner Zahir Khan, for four. Afghanistan’s spinners often erred in the early parts of Dowrich’s innings, pitching either too short or too full, and the batsman took full toll of the lapses to settle in nicely.

Brooks was handed a reprieve, when on 59, a sharp legbreak from Rashid made contact with the glove, before hitting the shoulder of the wicket-keeper Afsar Zazai and getting away from him. Dowrich then had a massive appeal for lbw go in his favour as West Indies began making steady progress thereafter. By lunch, Dowrich and Brooks had taken them to within touching distance of 200, and with half the wickets still intact, West Indies seemed to be on course for a big lead.

The post-lunch session began with a steady flow of boundaries from both batsmen, before Zahir pinged Dowrich on the pad in front of middle. Brooks then lost his captain Jason Holder before moving into the 90s with a four behind square.

Rashid spun one past his outside edge on 97, but he survived the over, before a short and wide ball from Hamza in the next over was put away behind point for a single that took him to the hundred. Brooks eventually became the ninth man dismissed, as West Indies lost their last three wickets for 17 runs. Hamza trapped Roach lbw with one that straightened from a length to complete his five-for and wrap up the West Indies innings.

Afghanistan began their second innings in much the same fashion as they did their first, making a steady start before losing their way with a flurry of wickets. Cornwall induced a misjudgement from Ibrahim Zadran, who shouldered arms to a length ball that spun in from outside off and hit his pad, to break a 53-run opening stand.

Ihsanullah fell victim to a mix-up, while Rahmat Shah was caught at forward short leg off the inside edge after being done in by drift, as West Indies went from 53/0 to 55/3. That became 59/4 when Asghar Afghan, too, fell bat-pad to Cornwall, giving him ten for the match.

All through, Javed Ahmadi had held one end up. He continued to fight valiantly and briefly steadied the innings with a 37-run stand for the fifth wicket with Nasir Jamal. But, as has been the theme of Afghanistan’s batting in this Test, they lost wickets in a heap after the consolidation.

West Indies struck thrice in the last five overs of the day, and with the last of those wickets being that of Ahmadi, for 62 off what turned out be the last ball of the day, the writing was on the wall for the home team.

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