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Lewis powers West Indies to first T20I win in 2019

14 Nov 2019 CricBuzz

Evin Lewis played the defining knock on a sluggish pitch in Lucknow as West Indies broke their T20I duck in 2019 to take a 1-0 lead over Afghanistan on Thursday (November 14). The left-handed opener's rapid half-century helped West Indies post a total of 164 despite a second-half slowdown - a target that Afghanistan never even threatened to achieve.

The run-chase, which began on the wrong foot with Rahmanullah Gurbaz falling for a golden duck, plunged into freefall in the second half. It was a manifestation of how their batsmen failed to find any momentum over the course of the innings, leading to rash shots and tame dismissals. Afghanistan must've come into the series hoping to turnaround their disappointments from the 3-0 ODI whitewash. Instead, their woes only mounted as West Indies continued from where they left off.

Lewis unleashes

The significance of Lewis's rapid half-century can't be overstated, considering the struggles almost every other batsman in the match endured. He started off quietly, looking to absorb the blow of Brandon King's dismissal in the first over - the debutant trying to cut Mujeeb off the stumps and failing. But once he went for it, he really went for it. A couple of boundaries off Mohammad Nabi helped him break out of the hold that the spinners had imposed in the powerplay, both off thick edges, but the risk paid off as he successfully unsettled their lengths. Once that happened, Lewis was severe.

Mujeeb's half-trackers were dispatched with disdain with the fifth over going for 16 as West Indies, and Lewis, truly kicked into gear. That was followed by an even more productive over which went for 17 with Lewis hammering a couple of sixes off Fareed Ahmed. So by the time the powerplay was done, West Indies had 52 on the board, having shaken off the early setback.

Unfortunately for Afghanistan, Lewis didn't stop there. He swept Rashid Khan's first ball for four to bring up his half-century off 26 balls, before smashing his sixth six of the innings in the following over.

While Lewis was going on his merry ways, Hetmyer - who had walked in at No. 3 - struggled for timing, but played a good foil in a partnership of 87.

Naib-inspired turnaround

When Gulbadin Naib came into the attack in the 12th over, West Indies were going at a run-rate of nine with Lewis still there. But through some excellent use of change-ups, the medium-pacer turned things around for Afghanistan, even as early as his first over itself in which he got rid of Lewis. Throwing his hands at a slower short ball outside off, Lewis could only slice it down to long-off, ending his assault at 68 off 41 balls to give Afghanistan a way back.

There was even a phase where West Indies went without a boundary for 35 balls as Kieron Pollard and Denesh Ramdin struggled to come to grips with the pitch. And when Ramdin threatened to do so with a whippy six, Naib fooled him with a slower ball to nail the stumps down.

It wasn't until the final over of the innings, where Pollard finished off with a six and a four that West Indies got some momentum back. But they had still only scored 72 off the final 10 overs, compared to 92 off the first 10.

Hardly a chase from Afghanistan

If nothing else, right-handed opener Gurbaz can't be denied points for being brave. His very first ball, he shuffled across for a scoop off Holder, and connected with it too. But call it misfortune or just the pitfalls of such daredevilry, it went straight to short fine leg. Then in the next over, Ibrahim Zadran top-edged his pull to midwicket as West Indies marched in front with Sheldon Cottrell. And even though Asghar Afghan tried hard, it wasn't easy against the change-ups that the visitors smartly picked up on from their own struggles with the bat. One of those change-ups, employed by Williams, accounted for Hazratullah Zazai who scratched around for 29 balls, scoring just 23.

Afghanistan just struggled to find any momentum in their run-chase, sliding to 69 for four when Afghan's mistimed pull was superbly taken by a diving Keemo Paul. It didn't take long for the wheels to come off after that. Najibullah Zadran and Mohammad Nabi, the two players who could've pulled off something special with their hitting prowess, were both dismissed in quick succession and if not for Fareed Malik's flashy 24, Afghanistan would've folded well inside 20 overs.

West Indies had lost six T20Is in a row leading up to this. But, as the ODIs revealed, this is a completely different team - both in personnel and leadership - under Kieron Pollard. And, again - like they ODIs, they've started well, coping with the setback of Nicholas Pooran's ball-tampering ban seamlessly.

Brief scores: West Indies 164 for 5 (Evin Lewis 68, Kieron Pollard 32*; Gulbadin Naib 2/24) beat Afghanistan 134 for 9 (Najibullah 27; Kesrick Williams 3/27, Pollard 2/17) by 30 runs.

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Original Link: https://www.cricbuzz.com/cricket-news/110807/evin-lewis-powers-west-indies-to-first-t20i-win-in-2019

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