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Nicholas Pooran shoots 98 as West Indies overwhelm Afghanistan in the T20 World Cup

GROS-EILANDJE, JUNE 18

Nicholas Pooran scored 98 runs off 53 balls as West Indies scored 218-5 and defeated Afghanistan by 104 runs in the final group stage match of the Twenty20 World Cup on Monday.

Both teams had already qualified for the Super Eight stage, but the West Indies finished undefeated and top of Group C.

Obed McCoy won 3-14 as Afghanistan were bowled out for 114 in 16.2 overs and West Indies sent a message to future rivals in the play-off stage. West Indies will play their first Super Eight match against the United States on Wednesday.

Pooran’s total was the highest individual total at the tournament and took him past 2,000 runs in Twenty20 internationals. He hit eight sixes and six fours in an explosive innings that took West Indies to the highest team total of the tournament.

“There were a lot of important moments and at the end of the day it’s all about team success,” Pooran said. ‘I felt like it was my day and I had to take responsibility. If it’s your day, you have to make it your day.’

Earlier, pace bowler Lockie Ferguson achieved the most economical bowling figures in Twenty20 internationals as New Zealand secured a consolation final victory against Papua New Guinea.

Pooran took advantage of perfect batting conditions at the Daren Sammy Stadium, launching shots to all parts of the ground and making 62 runs from shots that penetrated or crossed the boundaries.

Afghanistan had played their previous matches on difficult, turning pitches on which seamer Fazalhaq Farooqi and his spinners had dominated. It defeated Uganda by 58, New Zealand by 75 and Papua New Guinea by 95.

West Indies surpassed the highest of these totals in less than seven overs on Monday.

After five overs, West Indies were 85-1 and 92-1 at the end of the six-over powerplay, the highest total in a powerplay in the history of the T20 World Cup.

Pooran hit sixes off the second and third balls of the 20th to reach 97, the highest individual total in the World Cup so far. Just when a century seemed inevitable, he was run out by going back for a second run from the fourth ball, beaten by a direct hit at the striker’s end.

Farooqi, the tournament’s leading wicket-taker, finished with 0-38, captain Rashid Khan with 0-45 and Omarzai with 1-41. Gulbadin’s 2-14 from two overs stood out like a shining light among the gloom of the Afghan bowlers.

There was no reprieve for Afghanistan when it struck. Rahmanullah Gurbaz was out for the third ball of his innings, a wicket maiden bowled by Akeal Hossein. After his power play, Afghanistan were 45-1 and after 10 overs it was 66-5 when McCoy dismantled the top order.

“The way they batted and scored like 90 runs in the powerplay, it’s hard to come back from that,” Rashid said. ‘It’s good that this loss happened at this stage and not in a do-or-die game. ‘

Ferguson figures for New Zealand

Ferguson bowled four first overs and claimed three wickets as PNG were bowled out for 78 runs in 19.4 overs.

The target was lowered by New Zealand 79-3 in 12.2 overs. Devon Conway scored the highest with 35.

Ferguson’s figures were only the second instance of a bowler conceding no runs in a four-over spell in T20s. The other was in 2021 from Canada’s Saad Bin Zafar, who took two wickets for zero runs in four overs against Panama.

“A sturdy wicket to bat on, fun to bowl on,” Ferguson said.

PNG’s batting failed against New Zealand’s pace attack. Eight wickets were lost to fast bowling, with Tim Southee taking 2-11. Trent Boult returned with 2-14 in four overs in his final T20 appearance for the Black Caps.

New Zealand finished third in Group C behind the West Indies and Afghanistan, while PNG remained winless in its first T20 World Cup.