After a one-sided One-Day International (ODI) series, West Indies and Afghanistan will face off in a three-match T20 International (T20I) series beginning with the first game at the Ekana Cricket Stadium, Lucknow.
West Indies clean swept the three-match ODI series and will look to repeat the same in the shortest format as well. However, Afghanistan cannot be taken lightly – having won seven out of their previous 10 T20Is. On the other hand, barring an upset in the 2016 T20 World Cup, West Indies have managed to win the remaining three T20Is against Afghanistan, the last of which came in June 2017 in the Caribbean.
Ground details and weather
Only one T20 has been played at this venue and it was West Indies who played India in an international game in November 2018. The match saw Rohit Sharma score his fourth T20I century and India posted a massive 195 for 2.
The track was a good one for batting, with the ball coming on to the bat and the carry too was good. However, India had a quality batting line-up, but Afghanistan might struggle, with the likes of Sheldon Cottrell, Kesrick Williams and Alzarri Joseph bowling at them with some pace.
In the only T20 match at the venue, out of the 10 wickets (excluding run-outs), six went to pacers, while four went to spinners. Both pacers and the spinners picked up a wicket every 24 deliveries, but the spinners were more expensive, conceding at 8.6 an over compared to fast bowlers’ 7.3.
As far as the weather is concerned, there will be no rain interruptions, but dew could be a factor as the humidity is expected to be on the higher side.
Mujeeb Ur Rahman did an excellent job in the ODI series against West Indies where he had the batsmen on the backfoot in the first powerplay. He is often trusted to deliver in the powerplays even in T20 cricket. Since 2018, he has been among the best bowlers in the world in T20Is, in terms of picking up wickets and keeping the runs down. He has picked up 13 wickets in overs 1 to 6 since 2019, which is the highest after Billy Stanlake’s 15 and with an economy rate of 5.7, Mujeeb is the most economical bowler.
Hayden Walsh had a dream run in the 2019 Caribbean Premier League (CPL), where he picked up 22 wickets at 12.68 and took a wicket every 9.1 deliveries, which was the best among all bowlers who picked up a minimum of five wickets. Those are astonishing numbers and he will leave no stone unturned to replicate that in this T20I series. He had a lukewarm ODI series, but he will be expected to be at his best in the T20I series.
Lendl Simmons finished as the second highest run-getter in the 2019 CPL with 430 runs at a strike-rate of 150.34. He is set to play his first T20I for the West Indies since playing against Afghanistan at Basseterre in June 2017. However, he is perhaps the best player of spin in the current team and his experience will be vital especially in the early stages of the innings.
The hard-hitting Najibullah Zadran had a tremendous run in the Shpgeeza T20 League, where he scored 178 runs at a strike-rate of 209.41 from his six innings. He can tonk the ball a huge distance and occupying the crucial No. 4 position, he will be expected to anchor the innings and also bat till the death overs, a phase in which he has a strike-rate of 194.44 in T20 cricket this year.
Suggested FanFight XI
Hazratullah Zazai, Lendl Simmons, Shimron Hetmyer, Najibullah Zadran, Rahmanullah Gurbaz (wk), Kieron Pollard, Mohammad Nabi, Hayden Walsh, Mujeeb Ur Rahman (c), Sheldon Cottrell, Sayed Shirzad