West Indies eased to a comfortable win in the first One-Day International (ODI) at Lucknow on Wednesday and as a result, the pressure is on Afghanistan to bounce back in the second ODI as they look to draw level in the three-match series. However, a win for West Indies will see them clinch the series and the Kieron Pollard era would have gotten off to the perfect start.
Afghanistan just did not have enough runs on the board to defend and as a result, their bowlers could not force the West Indies batsmen into playing rash shots as they needed under four an over. Barring the 111-run stand for the third wicket, Afghanistan were completely outplayed in all departments. Once Alikhil was dismissed by a bizarre run-out for 58, Afghanistan added just 68 more runs in the next 28.5 overs. They also dropped a few catches and their ground fielding was well below par. In fact, Afghanistan have been woeful all year. They are rock bottom when it comes to net runs saved among all current ODI nations, while West Indies have not done too badly.
There was a lot on offer for the pacers initially. Jason Holder and Sheldon Cottrell had the Afghanistan batsmen on the back foot picking up a couple of quick wickets along the way. There was good bounce and carry through to the wicketkeeper. However, as the match progressed the spinners got into the game, getting some decent turn, especially Roston Chase, who bowled with great guile and accuracy. Out of the 13 wickets to fall (including two run-outs) in the first ODI – the only match at Lucknow so far – the pacers picked up six wickets at an economy rate of 4.5 and once every 41.3 deliveries.
The spinners on the other hand were more economical, conceding at 3.9 an over with a strike-rate of 60.6. This is largely due to the partnership between Shai Hope and Chase, who kept out Mujeeb Ur Rahman and Rashid Khan as they did not have a big total to chase and as a result, did not take any undue risks against them.
The weather is not a threat whatsoever and we will get a full game in. The team winning the toss will look to bat first as they would not want anything to do with the dew, which will come into play in the latter stages of the game. The Afghanistan spinners found it difficult to grip the ball towards the end and as a result were not as potent as they usually are.
While there are no injury concerns for either teams, the form of Shimron Hetmyer is a concern as he has not scored a fifty in his last six innings. Sunil Ambris, who has an ODI average of 70.40 and strike-rate of 101.73, could be an ideal option for them. Also, if West Indies need a bit more of batting depth, they might consider replacing Romario Shepherd with Keemo Paul, who along with being a quick bowler can also bat lower down the order.
Likely XI: Evin Lewis, Shai Hope (wk), Shimron Hetmyer/Sunil Ambris, Nicholas Pooran, Kieron Pollard (c), Roston Chase, Jason Holder, Sheldon Cottrell, Romario Shepherd/Keemo Paul, Hayden Walsh, Alzarri Joseph
Afghanistan on the other hand, who bat till no. 9, ideally need not make any changes to their XI, but each one of them will have to put their hand up and take responsibility. However, it might not be a bad idea to have 17-year-old Ibrahim Zadran opening the innings. He has scores of 69, 96*, 35, 62 and 25 in his previous five matches and we could see him continuing his rich form in this game too.
Fast bowler Karim Janat, who has played just one ODI so far too is an excellent option. With the pacers getting good purchase out of the Lucknow wicket, Janat, who is known to clock over 140 KMPH on a regular basis could give the Windies top-order a run for their money.
Likely XI: Hazratullah Zazai, Javed Ahmadi/Ibrahim Zadran, Rahmat Shah, Ikram Alikhil (wk), Asghar Afghan, Najibullah Zadran, Mohammad Nabi, Gulbadin Naib, Rashid Khan (c), Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Naveen-ul-Haq/Karim Janat