Lucknow: Afghanistan pacer Karim Janat had to watch his team get whitewashed in the ODIs from the bench and then was forced out of the first T20I because of a sore finger. He finally got an opportunity to play on Saturday (November 17) and the 21-year-old blew apart West Indies with some fine display of fast bowling to give his team their first win of this tour.
After scoring 26 runs in the first innings, Jannat bowled quick and with great intensity to finish with superb figures of 5 for 11. No other bowler has a better record against West Indies in a T20I encounter, while his bowling figures is second best for Afghanistan after Rashid Khan’s (5 for 3) in this format.
Afghanistan could only manage 147 for 7 in their 20 overs, but Mujeeb Ur Rahman and Naveen-ul-Haq bowled with tremendous control in the powerplay as West Indies could only score 29 runs in six overs. Despite that, they were only one wicket down and Afghanistan needed quick wickets to ensure that the Caribbean side don’t get a chance to up the ante.
Janat got the ball in hand in the seventh over and straightaway got rid of Shimron Hetmyer who was slightly unlucky with his lbw call. The right-arm fast bowler then had Evin Lewis caught at mid-on before getting Sherfane Rutherford caught behind on a delivery that kept angling away. Skipper rightly gave him one more over with West Indies captain Kieron Pollard coming in to bat and Janat sort of sealed the deal by getting him out lbw.
He later revealed that the time he was able to spend in the middle while batting gave him a rough idea about where to bowl in the second innings.
“I was out of the side in the first match and in the ODIs. That gave me an idea as to how to bowl. I got a chance to deliver today and that’s what I did. When I was batting, I got an idea where to bowl. I tried to hit the wicket hard while bowling,” Janat, who was named Man of the Match, said at the post-match presentation ceremony.
There was dew around at the Ekana Cricket Stadium and that could have made life more difficult for Afghanistan bowlers who were defending a below-par total. Naveen, who himself did a pretty good job in the powerplay, heaped heavy praise on Janat and said he used the dew to his advantage by hitting the length hard, hence allowing the ball to skid.
“I think dew is a big factor in these night matches. In Lucknow, it’s there from start of the first innings in T20s. But we controlled it well. From my side, the credit goes to Karim Janat who bowled brilliantly. If the bowler comes in and picks up five wickets in a T20 match... He single-handedly did the job for us,” said Naveen at the post-match press conference.
“There was dew around and the ball was skidding a bit. He used it for his benefit. He was hitting the deck hard and the ball was skidding and that caught West Indies by surprise.”
While the likes of Naveen and Gulbadin Naib relied more on variations, Janat came in with a simple ploy - bowl fast and hit the deck hard.
“All of us are very different. I am a kind of bowler who likes to change his pace a lot in these kinds of conditions, and Gulbadin too. But Karim is someone who wants to hit the wicket hard and it skids a bit for him.”
On the batting front, Afghanistan got off a breezy start but once again lost all the momentum in the middle overs. Most of their batsmen got starts but not one of them could convert it into a big score. Naveen said his team will have to work on this area before it gets worse.
“It might be a problem for us but don’t think it’s a big one. In T20, you need a fluent start and a good finish. I don’t think it’s a big factor but somewhere down the line we will have to control this also.”