While the focus of the cricket world is on the ICC Champions Trophy, two teams which failed to qualify for the tournament played out the first T20 international at Warner Park on Friday. West Indies came out winners against Afghanistan in the first of three T20Is with Sunil Narine playing an important role in the hosts’ six wicket win. The off spinner picked up three wickets and kept Afghanistan guessing for most part.
Narine finished with three for 11 runs off his four over spell as Afghanistan could only muster 110 runs when batting first.
In reply, Marlon Samuels scored a fluent 35 runs to lead West Indies to victory with almost four overs left to be bowled. This allowed West Indies to take a 1-0 lead in the series. The second and third matches in the T20s will be played at the same venue.
“Getting back into action in West Indies colours is always an enjoyable thing,” said Narine after receiving the “Man of the Match” award. “I am always trying different things with my bowling and tonight they came off pretty well.”
Afghanistan looked set to fare worse than their previous lowest T20I score of 72 runs when they were left in tatters at 58/8. The batsmen, including captain Asghar Stanikzai, were guilty of playing reckless shots. However Rashid Khan, with 33, and 21 from Amir Hamza gave the innings a measure of respectability with 52 runs coming in the last two wickets.
In their chase, West Indies did not have things easy with Afghan spinners Khan and Hamza proving to be a handful for Samuels and the Windies top order. But the target was too small to defend in the end.
“It’s always important to start with a win and we did what was required,” said West Indies captain Carlos Brathwaite. “Their tail held us up a bit and I thought we lost too many wickets, but generally it was a satisfying effort.”
“We needed to get at least 30-40 more runs to be competitive,” said a disappointed Stanikzai. “We know what we have to do to improve and I expect us to come back stronger for the second match.”