West Indies Dominate Afghanistan: Pooran’s 98 Lead to a Perfect Group Stage Finish

West Indies dominated Afghanistan to finish off their group stage on high in the ICC T20 World Cup 2024 showdown.

Nicholas Pooran’s exceptional 98 runs off just 53 balls, coupled with Obed McCoy’s stellar three-wicket haul, led to a record-breaking victory for the West Indies, marking their highest total in a men’s T20 World Cup match and a perfect finish to the group stage.

West Indies Dominate Afghanistan: Pooran’s 98 Lead to a Perfect Group Stage Finish
Nicholas Pooran thanks viewers following his scorching 98. Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images

Afghanistan 114 (Ibrahim 38, McCoy 3-14) lost to West Indies 218 for 5 (Pooran 98, Charles 43, Naib 2-14) by 104 runs.

The World Cup has been all about the bowlers, but Nicholas Pooran got things started for the West Indies batting side, who dominated Afghanistan to win the group stage and secure a perfect record. During the powerplay, he destroyed Azmatullah Omarzai, who gave up a record-breaking 36 runs in an over. And Afghanistan never really bounced back from that blow.

In the final T20 World Cup 2024 group encounter, Afghanistan was defeated by West Indies 218 for 5, thanks to Pooran’s 98 from just 53 balls. This was 104 too many for Afghanistan. Given that both teams had already secured their spots in the Super Eight, the outcome had minimal effect on the predetermined seeds. Afghanistan lost the chase badly, being bowled out for 114, with all five of the hosts’ bowlers splitting the spoils.

With eight sixes during his visit, Pooran overtook Chris Gayle to become the team’s top six-hitter in Twenty20 Internationals. It was the greatest total for the West Indies in Men’s T20 World Cup history.

At the Daren Sammy National Cricket Stadium, a stand bears his name, and Johnson Charles did not let us down. It seems sense that he would be cautious in the beginning of his inning after entering the game with two ducks and a 44. Nevertheless, he got off to a quick start, hitting a barrage of fours, most of them off outside edges. In the second over, he beat the short third to both sides, and in the third, he got one over point.

He handled everything with confidence and speed. But Naveen-ul-Haq’s pace adjustment proved too much to handle, and following a tussle in which a chance was missed, he chipped one to cover.

Pooran only needed two balls to get a good look at an incredible pitch in Gros Islet. His entrance was marked by a record-breaking 36-run over against Azmatullah Omarzai, during which he struck two fours and three sixes, one of which came off a no-ball.

Afghanistan usually looks on Mujeeb Ur Rahman to maintain control during the power struggle. Rashid Khan, however, had to initiate the powerplay for the first time in this T20 World Cup because he was out due to injury. As West Indies concluded their powerplay on 92 for 1, the highest score in the first six overs of the men’s T20 World Cup, he was greeted with a couple of fours.

With a total of 85 for 1 in five overs, West Indies were poised to resurrect the IPL 2024 formula that we had grown accustomed to: scores of 250 and beyond. However, Rashid and his spin-twin Noor Ahmad tied down the batters by taking advantage of the surface’s minimal purchase. To keep the hitters guessing, both changed up their legbreak and googly as well as their lengths.

Their advantage also came from the bounce off the surface. As a result, in the middle phase (overs 7 to 16), where West Indies scored just 66 and lost two wickets, there was only one four and three sixes—two of which were hit by Shai Hope against Mohammad Nabi.

Also Read: Lockie Ferguson’s Outstanding Performance Helps New Zealand Dominate PNG in T20 World Cup

West Indies Dominate Afghanistan: Pooran’s 98 Lead to a Perfect Group Stage Finish
Photo Credit: Associated Press

When Gulbadin Naib misplayed a ball at sweeper cover in the 17th over, Pooran, who had been sleeping giant-like, almost woken up and scored his first four since the powerplay. In the eighteenth over, he then tore into Rashid, who was 0 for 21 going into his final over. Stuck deep in the crease, Pooran frequently cleared his front leg in an attempt to convert the deliveries of decent length that Rashid usually bowls.

The lengthier boundary was Pooran’s leg side, and Rashid’s full bowling only aided him. With three sixes and a four in the over, he took 24 off it and turned the game drastically in the hosts’ favor. Naib, who bowled two outstanding overs for two wickets, employing the slower ones to fool the hitters, was too strong for him to do any damage. Pooran appeared about to reach a century when he hit back-to-back sixes off Naveen in the final over, but Omarzai’s direct throw from deep cover thwarted him.

Afghanistan’s middle order (Nos. 3 to 6) averaged a pitiful 19.71 before to the game, with openers Rahmanullah Gurbaz and Ibrahim Zadran carrying most of the load in the team’s victories over New Zealand and Uganda. Gurbaz exposed the Afghanistan middle order in a high chase after failing early in his attempt to take on powerplay enforcer Akeal Hosein.

Alzarri Joseph made a mistake, and Ibrahim punished him by hitting him for two sixes and one four in the opening six overs. Additionally, he was able to get away with a couple from Hosein, but he was unable to stop a lazy flick off Obed McCoy, who was filling in for Romario Shepherd while the latter was at home for the birth of his second child, to deep backward square leg.

In his opening T20 World Cup encounter, McCoy first removed Najibullah Zadran after a few balls and then bowled Nabi to bring Afghanistan down to 63 for 5 in the tenth over. Although Omarzai delivered a few powerful hits, Hosein, Gudakesh Motie, and Andre Russell kept them at bay.

With a clean slate entering the Super Eight stage, West Indies recorded their second-largest victory in T20 World Cup history (by runs). It was as if they were saying, “Talk now!”

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