On a sluggish track in Lucknow, Evin Lewis was the difference as he powered West Indies to break their T20 duck this year. West Indies now have a 1-0 lead over Afghanistan in the T20I series. Lewis’ half-century helped the Caribbeans to post a total of 164 on the board which turned out to be sufficient to keep Afghanistan at bay.
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 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 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, Evin Lewis was severe.
He dismantled Mujeeb’s half-trackers and hit top gear and followed that up by hammering two sixes off Fareed Ahmed. 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.
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 also revealed, this is a completely different team – both in personnel and leadership – under Kieron Pollard. And, again – like the ODIs, they’ve started well, coping with the setback of Nicholas Pooran’s ball-tampering ban seamlessly.
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