CRICKET-AFG/WIS-LEAD Windies slump to shock series defeat.


Minnows Afghanistan inflicted West Indies with a stunning series defeat here Sunday, after stifling the Caribbean side's powerful batting lineup to pull off a clinical 29-run victory in the final Twenty20 International of the three-match series.

Entering the decisive contest at the Atal Bihari Vajpayee International Stadium with the series level 1-1, West Indies found themselves outplayed for the second time in two days as the hosts completed a remarkable turnaround after losing the opening game by 30 runs last Thursday.

In pursuit of a challenging but hardly insurmountable 157, West Indies found themselves bogged down again and only Shai Hope, a late injury replacement for Denesh Ramdin, managed to defy the Afghan attack with a top score of 52 from 46 deliveries, with three fours and a six.

Opener Evin Lewis struck 24 from 23 balls but no other batsman passed 11 as the Windies paid dearly for a slow start and losing wickets at critical moments during the run chase.

Naveen-ul-Haq, a nerveless 20-year-old seamer who was handed the new ball, undermined the innings with three for 24 and also got the key wicket of captain Kieron Pollard for 11 in the 18th over, to snuff out the Caribbean side's last realistic hope of victory.

The humbling result came just 24 hours following their 41-run loss at the same venue and marked their fourth defeat to Afghanistan in seven T20 Internationals, but their first-ever series defeat.

More damning for the Windies - the reigning T20 World champions - the series defeat was their third straight following similar results against England and India earlier this year, and was their 17th loss in 21 T20 outings inside the last 20 months.

Rahmanullah Gurbaz, a 17-year-old right-hander in only his seventh T20 International, established the early momentum for Afghanistan when he stroked an enterprising Man-of-the-Match 79 off 52 balls at the top of the order.

The innings, comprising half-dozen fours and five sixes, held the hosts' innings together and steered them to 156 for eight after they chose top bat first.

While Asghar Afghan was the only other basman to pass 20 with 24, it was enough to push Afghanistan pass the 150-run mark and leave their bowlers with a target to defend.

Left-arm pacer Sheldon Cottrell, who claimed two 29, made key strikes to give West Indies the early initiative, removing Hazratullah Zazai without scoring to the fifth ball...

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