19th over: West Indies 82-1 (Lewis 48, Hope 25) Another tight over from Nabi, who has figures of 4-0-14-0. This is a decent spell for Afghanistan.
“Given that the ‘spirit of cricket’ is an integral and important part of the laws of the game, if Bangladesh win the toss and elect to bat, thereby denying Pakistan any chance of getting a semi-final berth, would they be guilty of contravening the aforementioned laws?” wonders Jon Short.
No, not at all. Bangladesh v Pakistan is a huge game, even when it’s a dead rubber, and batting first is their best chance of winning it.
18th over: West Indies 81-1 (Lewis 48, Hope 24) Rashid Khan, who has had such success against West Indies in the past, comes into the attack. His third ball is a beauty that beats Hope, who has played a few false strokes in this innings. Three from the over.
17th over: West Indies 78-1 (Lewis 48, Hope 21) Fifteen of the last 20 games in this competition have been won the team batting first, and this already feels like West Indies’ game to lose. Time for drinks.
16th over: West Indies 76-1 (Lewis 47, Hope 20) “Some matches ago, you were discussing songs that sound like cricketer names,” says Aditya Nair. “I’m a bit late to the party, but I can’t help but hum AR Rahman’s Jai Ho every time Shai Hope is at the crease. Shai Hope!! Shai Hope!”
That sent my train of thought straight to this, even if it’s not quite as phonetically similar.
15th over: West Indies 73-1 (Lewis 45, Hope 19) Hope makes it two sixes in three balls for the West Indies with a sweet straight drive off Nabi. West Indies are having fun today. I wonder if Jason Holder regrets bowling first so often during this World Cup.
“Nice to see so many school kids in the crowd, providing a different atmosphere in the Western Terrace than is usual,” says Jonny Heyhoe. “Hitting inflatables (on each other), clapping and singing. Be a different story when I’m back for the Ashes – pity the ECB don’t do it more often.”
14th over: West Indies 65-1 (Lewis 44, Hope 12) Lewis, on the run, drives Gulbadin through extra cover for four. The next ball is short and pulled over midwicket for a majestic flat six. Afghanistan need a wicket soon, because I doubt they’ll want to chase much more than 200.
“Between the Duckworth Lewis Stern method, NRR calculations and Arthur Miller references it is apparent that a PhD in maths is insufficient to understand cricket,” says David Farrelly. “I would add another twist which has, inexplicably not been commented upon re: the Bangladesh v. Pakistan match. Whilst in the air the coin is in a superposition of heads and tails. Observing will collapse the wave function into one state or the other but what happens if everybody closes their eyes?”
They all shout ‘bird’?
13th over: West Indies 53-1 (Lewis 32, Hope 12) The offspinner Mohammad Nabi, who has had a fine tournament, comes into the attack. Three singles from his first over.
“Hi Rob,” says Pete Salmon. “I love that coming back from the dead is referred to as ‘returning to the fold’ by Ian Copestake. Sounds like the sort of encouraging thing an English vicar might say. Questions, is that our last sight of Chris Gayle do you think, or will he indeed return to the fold?”
I suspect he’ll be given a farewell game in the Caribbean, and that’ll be it. But the politics of West Indian cricket are such that anything is possible. He could player/manager/captain of the Test team by Christmas.
12th over: West Indies 50-1 (Lewis 30, Hope 11) Gulbadin Naib, whose lamentable bowling cost Bangladesh victory over Pakistan here on Saturday, gets back on the horse. A well-timed drive from Lewis is superbly stopped at mid-off, and then Hope is beaten outside off stump by a change of pace. The seamers are already using lots of slower balls.
11th over: West Indies 47-1 (Lewis 27, Hope 11) Hope is beaten by a delicious slower ball from Shirzad that bounces twice on its way through to the keeper. Hope has been a big disappointment in this tournament – he averages 30, which is okay, but he had a prehistoric strike-rate of 66.
10th over: West Indies 43-1 (Lewis 25, Hope 9) Lewis survives an appeal for a catch down the leg side off Dawlat. It was a beautiful take from the keeper Ikram, but the ball came off the pad. A maiden from Dawlat, who has bowled a useful new-ball spell.
“Thanks to Martin Gilbert,” says Ian Copestake (again). “That it has taken a deceased academic author of 88 books on world history to return to the fold to explain the minutae of this competition’s qualifying permutations speaks for itself.”
9th over: West Indies 43-1 (Lewis 25, Hope 9) The left-arm seamer Sayed Shirzad comes into the attack. His second ball is short and outside the leg stump of Lewis, who picks it up for a big six. He has raced to 25 from 21 balls.
“I know it is not relevant here (good start, Ian) but can we talk about Trent Boult?” says Ian Copestake. “I was intrigued at seeing a grown man plainly in a foul mood and muttering off attempts by his wicketkeeper to cheer him up. It was passed off by the commentators as jokingly typical of a fast bowler. But was it? Given NZ’s shocking decline over the course of being in the UK is something rotten in the state of them?”
Well, they are on course to become the first team in World Cup history to be eliminated in the semi-finals after a fourth consecutive defeat. They’ve had a strange tournament. Truth is, they’ve played most of it with a half a team, so you can understand Boult’s agita.
8th over: West Indies 35-1 (Lewis 18, Hope 8) Oh dear. Hope flicks Dawlat straight to short midwicket, where the usually reliable Rashid Khan drops a sitter. Lewis gets his fourth boundary later in the over, pulling Dawlat behind square.
“Nice to see you coming over all Arthur Miller,” says Robert Wilson. “Tenth vs Ninth indeed. Of course, you shouldn’t have to do any patter or spiel (less Death of a Salesman than Stubbed Toe of a Trader). We all know that these games are literally the whole point of a World Cup. Don’t we? They’re its glitter and magic, its warmth and its heart. They’re the World part. Otherwise, they’d just call it the Cup.”
Amen to that. Ask me my favourite World Cup team and I wouldn’t say Sri Lanka 1996 or England 1992. I’d say East Africa 1975.
7th over: West Indies 28-1 (Lewis 14, Hope 5) A quiet over from Mujeeb: 1 x single, 1 x leg bye, 1 x wide.
“Morning Rob,” says Alex Bramble. “Glad to see Mark Wood’s fingertips spared yours from being too gnawed and bloodied to take the helm of the good ship OBO this morning. I’m already tingling with terror and even some excitement (!) at the prospect of the semis. I’m tempted to say come on the Saffers on Saturday so back-in-business England can have a crack at Australia at Edgbaston in the semis, which seems a more likely setting to conquer them than the final at Lord’s – the utter devastation of the inevitable Australian win in a World Cup final at Lord’s might be too much for even misery-hardened England supporters. But then again, imagine the unbridled joy of a World Cup final win against Australia at Lord’s…”
I can’t. I genuinely can’t imagine it.
6th over: West Indies 25-1 (Lewis 14, Hope 4) “Pakistan are definitely out if Bangladesh bat first because, even if Bangladesh are bowled out for 0, and Pakistan win with a six on the first ball, their NRR will still be less than New Zealand’s, because they haven’t added enough runs to their score to increase their own “for” run rate, and their “against” run rate won’t have been decreased by enough (even counting Bangladesh’s score as 0 runs for 50 overs),” says Martin Gilbert. “The best NRR they can have in that scenario is about 0.051, when NZ’s is 0.175.”
Yes, I think I get it. Essentially, they need a 100-over game (for NRR purposes) to have any chance of overhauling New Zealand.
WICKET! West Indies 21-1 (Gayle c Ikram b Dawlan 7)
Christopher Henry fails in his his final World Cup innings. He made room to smash Dawlat through the off side – but the delivery was full and wide, which meant Gayle could barely reach it. All he could do was snick it through to the keeper.
5th over: West Indies 20-0 (Gayle 7, Lewis 13) Mujeeb is cut for four by Lewis, a beautifully played shot. He’s had a frustrating World Cup, mainly because of injury: his scores have been 1, 2, 70, 0 and 13*.
4th over: West Indies 15-0 (Gayle 7, Lewis 8) A typical Gayle over: dot, dot, dot, four, dot, dot.
“I think that South Africa vs Australia is going to be a huge deal from England’s point of view,” says Don Wilson. “If we’re going to win this thing, we’re going to have to beat both India and Australia. As it stands we will have to play India at Edgbaston and hopefully Australia at Lord’s. I feel our chances would be better if that situation were reversed. Hence, for once in my life I will be rooting for a Saffer victory.”
Agreed. Which is why Australia will beat South Africa with ease. And as you were re: Bangladesh batting first, I understand it now. I knew GCSE maths would come in handy one day.
3rd over: West Indies 11-0 (Gayle 3, Lewis 8) Apologies, we’re having a few technical problems. Lewis, who has started aggressively, clatters Mujeeb to the cover boundary.
In other news, can anyone explain why Pakistan are definitely out if Bangladesh bat first tomorrow? I sort of get it, except I don’t. I only got a B at GCSE maths.
2nd over: West Indies 6-0 (Gayle 2, Lewis 4) It’s the right-arm seamer Dawlat Zadran from the other end, and Lewis gets off the mark by working a boundary to fine leg.
1st over: West Indies 1-0 (Gayle 1, Lewis 0) The mystery offspinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman will, as usual, take the new ball. It’s a good over to Gayle, who has a few sighters before taking a slow single off the last delivery.
“I don’t think we need any more talk of ‘dead rubbers’,” writes
Damian Burns. “Even though the next four games may not matter a huge deal for this World Cup (bar placings for the semis), international cricket exists, unlike other sports, outside of major tournaments. All these games will provide fodder for discussions for series to come over the next few years.
“A final hammering for South Africa by Australia would prompt some serious discussion at Cricket South Africa about funding and international wages. Another India win against Sri Lanka could see them once again overtake England in the ICC rankings [it wouldn’t – ed, but a win in the semi-final would]. A Bangladesh victory over Pakistan would cement their place as a modern-day force of the subcontinent. And as you mention in the preamble, an Afghanistan win today would be an historic upset to be talked about for years to come. I also got great odds on an Afghanistan win today so that will keep me entertained if nothing else!”
Afghanistan Gulbadin (c), Rahman, Ikram, Afghan, Nabi, Najibullah, Shinwari, Rashid, Mujeeb, Dawlat, Shirzad.
West Indies Gayle, Lewis, Hope (wk), Hetmyer, Pooran, Holder (c), Brathwaite, Allen, Roach, Cottrell, Thomas.
West Indies have won the toss and will bat first
No surprise there: they’ve often been a shambles when batting second. Gulbadin Naib says he would also have batted first.
Morning and welcome to live coverage of Afghanistan v West Indies from Headingley. Let’s be honest, even Barry Hearn would struggle to sell this one. It’s tenth vs ninth, a Dodo-dead rubber. And yet, this could turn out to be one of the most memorable games of the tournament.
Afghanistan are chasing their first World Cup win against a fellow Test-playing nation. When that happens, be it today or in 2023, it will be a landmark in their development – one to sit alongside historic victories like Sri Lanka v India in 1979, Zimbabwe v Australia in 1983 and Bangladesh v Pakistan in 1999.
They should have beaten India and Pakistan in the last two weeks, so they must have a chance against a West Indies side who have seen off strong competition to claim the prize for the World Cup’s biggest letdown.
Afghanistan have a good ODI record against the Windies, too, with three wins in four completed games. That includes a drawn series in the Caribbean two years ago, when Rashid Khan took 10 for 44 in two matches, and two victories at last year’s World Cup Qualifier.
This is also Chris Gayle’s last World Cup appearance, and it might be his last for the West Indies. So there’s that, too. See, this sales lark is easy.
The match starts at 10.30am.