BASSETERRE, St Kitts–Veteran Marlon Samuels dominated with a classy career-best half-century as West Indies brushed aside minnows Afghanistan by seven wickets in the final Twenty20 International to sweep the three-match series on Monday night.
Chasing an uncomplicated 147 for victory at Warner Park, the hosts reached their target with four balls to spare, with the right-handed Samuels finishing unbeaten on 89 from 66 deliveries to earn Man-of-the-Match and Man-of-the-Series honours.
Jason Mohammed ended on 23 not out, adding 65 with Samuels in unbroken fourth wicket stand which required 39 balls. Rookie seamer Kesrick Williams had earlier grabbed three for 34 to help restrict Afghanistan to 146 for six off their 20 overs, after the Asian side threatened a large total following a frenetic start.
Mohammad Nabi blasted 38 off 30 deliveries while opener Noor Ali’s exciting cameo 35 required all of 19 balls. Wicketkeeper Shafiqullah chimed in with an entertaining 25 off 15 balls. Williams finished the series with eight wickets following a similar three-wicket haul in Saturday’s second T20 and two wickets in the opener last Friday.
Afghanistan were in early trouble after opting to bat when opener Javed Ahmadi perished without scoring to the second ball he faced, plumb lbw to leg-spinner Samuel Badree in the second over with the score on 14. Noor Ali counter-attacked, hammering five fours and two sixes–including three consecutive boundaries off wayward seamer Jerome Taylor in the third over which leaked 13 runs.
In the following over, the right-hander cleared the ropes at long-off from the bowling of Samuel Badree and then swept him square for four as Afghanistan raced to 40 for one after just four overs. But Williams struck in his first over, bowling Noor Ali with his final delivery as the batsman improvised too far across his stumps. Medium pacer Rovman Powell also got lucky in his first over, having captain Asghar Stanikzai caught at mid-wicket by Williams for 13.Stumbling at 57 for three in the ninth over, Afghanistan were propelled by two key partnerships as Nabi and Karim Janat added 39 for the fourth wicket while Shafiqullah and Najibullah Zadran put on 30 for the sixth wicket.
West Indies’ run chase began disastrously when Chadwick Walton drove the second ball of the innings from left-arm speedster Shapoor Zadran to extra cover to depart without scoring. Samuels arrived, however, to destroy any hopes the Afghans harboured of pulling off a consolation win. Playing with his trademark power and timing on full display, the Jamaican struck nine fours and three sixes, while adding 61 for the second wicket with Evin Lewis (19) and another precious half-century with Mohammed.
Dropped on 40 off a stinging caught and bowled chance off off-spinner Nabi at 60 for one in the 10th over, Samuels went on to raise his 10th T20I half-century off 46 balls with a pulled four through mid-wicket off seamer Janat in the 14th over. He lost Lewis also in the 10th, lbw to one speared into leg stump from Nabi and saw the back of Lendl Simmons for 15 in the 13th over, holing out to long-off off leg-spinner Rashid Khan.
With his half-century out of the way, Samuels upped the tempo, lashing consecutive sixes off Nabi in the 16th over which cost 16 runs and his third six a couple overs later off Janat, saw him tie his previous career-best of 85, as West Indies cruised towards victory. The hosts won the opener last Friday by six wickets and the second match on Saturday by 29 runs under Duckworth/Lewis in a rain-hit affair.
They face Afghanistan again on Friday in St Lucia in the first One-Day International of a three-match series.