West Indies started its preparations for next year’s Twenty20 World Cup with a 30-run victory over Afghanistan in the first match of their three-game T20 series on Thursday.
West Indies hardly missed the banned power-hitter Nicholas Pooran to post a decent total of 164-5 with left-handed opener Evin Lewis hitting a 41-ball 68.
Afghanistan, which won the toss and bowled, struggled against the West Indies bowling — like it did in the preceding ODI series — and was restricted to 134-9.
Pooran was banned for four Twenty20s on Wednesday after he was found guilty of changing the condition of the ball with his thumbnail during the ODI series, which West Indies won 3-0.
West Indies also lost Fabian Allen early in Afghanistan’s run chase before the left-arm spinner could bowl when he injured his right knee during fielding, but seamer Kesrick Williams picked up 3-17 and captain Kieron Pollard took 2-17.
“It’s always good to contribute but it’s always better to contribute in the winning cause,” Pollard said. “It was not one of the easiest wickets to bat on. The balls were coming slow off the wicket … we were a bowler short but the boys stepped up.”
Afghanistan’s young top-order batsmen — Rahmanullah Gurbaz and Ibrahim Zadran — fell early and Williams had dangerman Hazratullah Zazai (23) caught behind in the 9th over.
Najibullah Zadran top-scored with 27 and ex-captain Asghar Afghan made 25 but both fell to Pollard, and Afghanistan further struggled at 97-7 at the start of the 16th over.
Earlier, Lewis provided a robust start to the innings, clobbering six sixes and four boundaries before he holed out at long-off after former captain Gulbadin Naib beat him with a slower delivery in the 12th over.
Naib’s figures of 2-24 pulled back West Indies before Pollard smashed an unbeaten 32 off 22 balls and carried West Indies to a respectable total.
“We didn’t have the ideal start but have two more opportunities to make a comeback,” Afghanistan captain Rashid Khan said.
“We have the plans about what kind of team we want in the coming five years, so we are giving chances to youngsters.”
Earlier, the start of the match was delayed by 15 minutes because insect repellent sprayed on the field had not sufficiently cleared due to the lack of wind.
The second and third matches are on Saturday and Sunday before a one-off test in this northern Indian city starts Nov. 27.