Cricket-Pooran turns on the power as West Indies pummel Afghanistan


  • Cricket
  • Tuesday, 18 Jun 2024

West Indies' Nicholas Pooran reacts after being run out during the ICC men's Twenty20 World Cup 2024 group C cricket match between the West Indies and Afghanistan at Daren Sammy Cricket Ground in Gros Islet, St. Lucia, June 17, 2024. - AFP

(Reuters) - West Indies left-hander Nicholas Pooran combined elegance with power to score 98 with eight sixes on Monday and propel his team to a 104-run win over Afghanistan in the final first-round match of the Twenty20 World Cup at Gros Islet in St Lucia.

Pooran was run out by a direct hit on the stumps by Azmatullah Omarzai attempting a second run in the final over as West Indies amassed 218 for five, the highest score of the competition.

In reply, Afghanistan reached 114 from 16.2 overs although the result was academic as both teams had already qualified for the Super Eight round which starts on Wednesday.

West Indies went instantly on to the attack after being asked to bat first on an excellent pitch in front of an exuberant crowd.

Brandon King guided the first ball from left arm paceman Fazalhaq Farooqi through the leg side for four and Johnson Charles struck another four through square leg, with 13 coming off the first over.

Charles square drove the first ball from Omarzai to the boundary then sliced to third man for four. King was clean bowled before Pooran, the most prolific six hitter in T20s this decade, crashed a six and a four to bring up the team's 50 in less than four overs.

Afghanistan captain Rashid Khan brought himself on in the fifth over to try to exert some control with his wrist spin only to concede 12 runs, and at the end of the powerplay West Indies were 92 for one, the highest score after six overs in a T20 World Cup.

Afghanistan's slow bowlers managed to wrest back some control but the score was still 113 for two after 10 overs and 148 for three after 15. The 200 came up after 18.5 overs off medium pacer Gulbadin Naib, the seventh man asked to bowl.

The Afghans were never in the hunt as the West Indies bowlers imposed a stranglehold from the start, with left arm paceman Obed McCoy, playing his first game of the tournament, varying his length and pace from a relaxed action to take three for 14.

Pooran, in his other role as wicketkeeper, took a spectacular leaping catch before the innings finished.

"I had to take responsibility," said Pooran after smashing the highest individual score at this year's tournament.

"In West Indies people want four and sixes. You can't do that every time but when conditions allow you should capitalise."

(Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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