The Windies crashed to their first loss of the ICC World Cup qualifiers following a three-wicket loss to Afghanistan in the opening Super Six encounter at Harare on Thursday.
Winning the toss and choosing to bat the regional team limped to 197 for 8 in their turn at the crease, setting up an easy target for Afghanistan who made it home with 14 balls to spare.
Heading into the match needing to win every game from here on in, after just one victory in the opening round, the Phil Simmons-coached Afghanistan certainly showed the desperation of a side on the ropes.
Spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman and pacer Dawlat Zadran got the Afghans off to a flying start and the Windies never really looked like an unbeaten team that had averaged around 300 heading into the encounter.
It was Rahman who captured the prized wicket of star Chris Gayle who was deceived by a googly inside the first two overs. Following a stifling spell where the Windies managed a solitary boundary in the first 7.5 overs, Shimron Hetmyer (15) was next to go after being wrongly given lbw to a looping delivery from Mohammad Nabi.
Opener Evin Lewis (27) was next to follow after attempting a tight single and being run out to a direct throw from Najibullah Zadran which left the Windies at 4 for 108.
Marlon Samuels’ 36 from 64 deliveries and Shai Hope’s 43 from 94, stemmed a steady procession of dismissals with a 55-run fourth-wicket stand, but in truth, the duo progressed slowly after doing very little to rotate the strike.
Jason Holder’s brisk 28 for 26 provided needed momentum for the team at the bottom of the innings but he fell to a sharp catch by Najibullah Zadran at long-on off Mujeeb.
The Windies did manage an early breakthrough when the Afghans replied, as Javed Ahmadi (1) was out lbw to Paul in the second over. Mohammad Shahzad (8) followed soon after when he was caught by Rovman Powell off the bowling of Jason Holder. In fact, the Asian team could never be described as truly comfortable in their response, but a patient 68 from 109 from Rahmat Shah was enough to anchor a measured innings which saw them home with room to spare. Holder was best of the Windies bowlers after claiming 3 for 39. (SportsMax)