Afghanistan will have to make its biggest score at this Cricket World Cup to finish the tournament with a win after West Indies posted 311-6 at Headingley on Thursday.
After the early departure of Chris Gayle (7) in the last World Cup innings of his career, West Indies bounced back through half-centuries by Evin Lewis (58) and Shai Hope (77).
Some late big-hitting from Nicholas Pooran (58 off 43) and Jason Holder (45 off 34, including four sixes) in the middle order helped to take the Windies beyond 300 in the last over, the kind of total that has been beyond Afghanistan this tournament.
The Afghans’ highest score in their opening eight group games was 247-8 against England in Manchester. The average score for teams batting second has been 234.
Rashid Khan, Afghanistan’s most famous player, continued his disappointing form at the World Cup with bowling figures of 1-52 and he also dropped Hope on 5 at midwicket. He finishes the tournament with six wickets in total, at an average of 69.
Summing up an often sloppy display in the field by Afghanistan was a bizarre incident off the final ball of the innings, when captain Gulbadin Naib was lining up to attempt a catch off Carlos Brathwaite’s shot at long off. At the last minute, Gulbadin pulled out of the catch seemingly blinded by the sun and the ball bounced right next to the rope and dribbled over.
Gayle needed 18 runs to top Brian Lara (10,348) as West Indies’ leading scorer in ODIs but after mostly scratching around in his crease, sometimes playing and missing, he advanced and tried to smash Dawlat Zadran to the fence on the offside off his 18th ball. He ended up nicking it behind.
“The Universe Boss”, as the 39-year-old West Indies opener calls himself, trudged off, briefly holding his bat up to the crowd on his record-tying 295th ODI appearance for the Windies, matching Lara’s haul.
Instead, it was Holder who provided the most entertainment for the Windies, smashing four sixes and a four on a sun-kissed day in northern England.
That helped West Indies to rack up 65 off the last five overs and maybe take the game away from last-place Afghanistan, which has yet to register a point this tournament. It only claimed one win in six games in its World Cup debut in 2015, and that was against Scotland.
West Indies started the match in next-to-last place on three points, courtesy of a solitary win over Pakistan and a washout.