Nicholas Pooran blasts 98 as the West Indies overwhelm Afghanistan at the T20 World Cup

GROS ISLET, St. Lucia (AP) — Nicholas Pooran scored 98 runs from 53 balls as the West Indies made 218-5 and beat Afghanistan by 104 runs on Monday in the final match in the group stage at the Twenty20 World Cup.

Both teams already had qualified for the Super Eight stage but the West Indies finished unbeaten and atop Group C.

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

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

“There were many 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 the responsibility. When 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 earned a consolation closing win 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 taking 62 runs from blows which pierced or cleared the boundaries.

Afghanistan had played its previous matches on difficult, turning pitches on which seamer Fazalhaq Farooqi and its spinners had dominated. It bowled out Uganda for 58, New Zealand for 75 and Papua New Guinea for 95.

The West Indies surpassed the highest of those totals Monday in fewer than seven overs.

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

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

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

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

“The way they batted, scoring around 90 runs in the power play, it is tough to come back from that,” Rashid said. “It's good this loss happened at this stage, not in a do-or-die game. ”

Ferguson figures for New Zealand

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

The target was run down by New Zealand at 79-3 in 12.2 overs. Devon Conway top-scored with 35.

Ferguson's figures were only the second instance of a bowler not conceding any runs in a four-over spell in T20s. The other was in 2021 by Canada's Saad Bin Zafar, who picked up two wickets for no runs in four overs against Panama.

“A tough wicket to bat on, nice 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 2-14 in four overs in his last T20 appearance for the Black Caps.

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


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