LUCKNOW: Afghan teenage opener Rahmanullah Gurbaz hit an attacking half-century to set up Afghanistan’s 29-run series-clinching win over West Indies in the third T20I.
Gurbaz hit 79 off 52 balls as Afghanistan posted 156 for eight, a total their bowlers defended by restricting the West Indies to 127-7 in Lucknow.
They won the series 2-1 after losing the opening game and being swept in the preceding ODIs 3-0.
Paceman Naveen-ul-Haq took three wickets to choke the West Indies’ chase despite a valiant 52 by wicketkeeper-batsman Shai Hope.
“You have to be smart and cool and calm as a professional player. Sometimes you are losing but your energy and mindset for upcoming matches is more important,” said skipper Rashid Khan. “Yes we lost the first three ODIs and the first T20Is but still the focus was that we can still win two trophies — T20Is and Test cricket.”
But it was the 17-year-old Gurbaz, a wicketkeeper-batsman, who stood out with his second T20I fifty after the Afghans were in early trouble at 12 for two.
Gurbaz, named man of the match, put on a crucial 50-run stand for the fourth wicket with former captain Asghar Afghan, who made 24, and surpassed his previous T20I best of 61.
He smashed six fours and five sixes before falling to West Indies skipper Kieron Pollard.
Pacemen Sheldon Cottrell, Kesrick Williams and Keemo Paul took two wickets each.
The West Indies lost regular wickets to falter in their chase against a disciplined Afghanistan attack that made the most of a slow track.