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Pooran’s stuning 98 & explosive 36-run over powers WI to win

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St Lucia: Nicholas Pooran’s spectacular 98 off 53 balls powered the West Indies to a commanding victory over Afghanistan, closing the first round of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup here on Tuesday IST.

Having already secured their place in the Super 8 stage, the co-hosts faced undefeated Group C rivals Afghanistan at the Daren Sammy Cricket Ground. Pooran’s explosive innings set the stage for a record-breaking performance, dispelling any doubts about the West Indies’ title ambitions.

Afghanistan’s captain, Rashid Khan, won the toss and opted to bowl, aiming for early breakthroughs. The strategy initially seemed to work as Brandon King was dismissed for 7 in the second over.

However, Johnson Charles, and Pooran quickly turned the tide in the West Indies’ favor. Charles’ quick boundaries in the third over were a precursor to Pooran’s remarkable assault on Azmatullah Omarzai, producing a 36-run over that included two sixes, a four, and multiple extras.

This feat marked only the fifth instance in T20I history and the second in a Men’s World Cup where an over went for 36 runs. By the end of the six-over Powerplay, the West Indies had surged to an unprecedented 92-1, setting a new record for the highest Powerplay total in Men’s T20 World Cup history.

Charles continued his aggressive play, scoring 43 off 27 balls before being dismissed, ending an 80-run stand that lasted just six overs. Despite a brief lull in boundary-hitting during the middle overs, Pooran and Shai Hope (25 off 17) kept the run rate in double digits. Pooran reached his half-century off just 31 balls, marking his first fifty in a T20 World Cup.

Rovman Powell reignited the momentum in the 16th over with a six, taking the West Indies past the 150 mark. Pooran then dominated Rashid Khan in the 18th over, scoring 24 runs off it. Rashid ended his spell with 45 runs conceded without taking a wicket.

Pooran’s bid for a century ended dramatically as he was run out for 98 in the final over, following a spectacular throw from Azmatullah Omarzai. The West Indies concluded their innings at 218-5, their highest total in T20 World Cup history and the highest score of the tournament so far.

Afghanistan’s response to the massive target faltered early, with Rahmanullah Gurbaz dismissed for a duck in the first over. Despite some resistance from Gulbadin Naib and Ibrahim Zadran, the West Indies bowlers, led by Gudakesh Motie, maintained pressure, reducing Afghanistan to 66-5 by the midpoint of their innings.

Karim Janat and Omarzai offered some resistance with sixes in the 11th over, but Omarzai’s dismissal in the 13th over for 23 off 19 balls marked the beginning of the end for Afghanistan. The West Indies’ disciplined bowling attack eventually bowled Afghanistan out for 114, handing them their first defeat of the World Cup.

The West Indies’ 104-run victory, led by Pooran’s stellar performance, sends them into the next phase of the tournament in world-beating form, with confidence high as they continue their pursuit of the championship.

Brief Scores: West Indies 218/5 (Nicholas Pooran 98, Johnson Charles 43; Gubadin Naib 2-14) beat Afghanistan 114 in 16.2 overs (Ibrahim Zadran 38; Obed McCoy 3-14, Akeal Hosein 2-21, Gudakesh Motie 2-28) by 104 runs.

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