Afghanistan v West Indies: Afghans can notch win as World Cup bids Chris Gayle farewell

Afghanistan have got despite themselves

The Afghans changed their captain, have fallen out from the scenes and have come so close to taking big scalps. It begs the question’what could they have achieved atop perfect unity?’ They have suffered eight straight defeats nevertheless there’s something remarkable about this Afghan side. They were nowhere in world cricket a long time ago and have increased the ranks to take their chair at the top table. By the following World Cup in India they will be far more of a force.

They took down India, were on the verge of success against Pakistan in their final game and all their nearlies came later being chased for 17 sixes by England captain Eoin Morgan. They have stuck to their job, seem to be learning lessons and will ultimnately be better for the experience. When in the heat of battle they have lost the one percenters, revealed their inexperience and neglected to get over the line. But they are becoming closer.

Inexperienced skipper Gulbadin Naib has made a few poor decisions and yet they enter their final game desperate to take a victory home. Mohammad Nabi (9) and Mujeeb Ur Rahman (7) have set the highly regarded Rashid Khan (5) from the shade and may play a big part at a Headingley that took spin out time.

It might have been much different for West Indies
West Indies have one win and a no result in their eight matches. That win came into their opening game against Pakistan and lots of people’s (including mine) pre-tournament outside picks to reach the semi-finals have disappointed. If they’d taken advantage of dominating the early phases against Australia, if Carlos Brathwaite’s magnificent century had not fallen inches short of beating New Zealand, when the rain hadn’t intervened when they were on top against South Africa, whenever they had batted slightly better against Sri Lanka – well you get the picture – it’s so near and yet so far.

Sheldon Cottrell has been a star on and off the pitch with 12 wickets and as many salutes in eight games. Captain Jason Holder and young fast bowler Oshane Thomas possess eight wickets apiece. They have been somewhat one-dimensional in the specialty.

Nobody would begrudge the Afghans their triumph
There’s simply no way Afghanistan ought to be priced as rank outsiders in 4.50 from a West Indies side which have only ever beaten them in five attempts. They met twice at the qualification tournament for this World Cup where the Afghans won by three wickets and seven wickets.Hashmatullah Shahidi (197) is 4/1, Najubullah Zadran (199) 11/1 and Rahmat Shah (192) 7/2 are Afghanistan’s leading run-scorers in a marketplace for Top Afghanistan Batsman which is remarkably open. Hazratullah Zazai has yet to come to the party and may be a drama at 7/2. But the value people with Najubullah using a half-stakes nibble at 11/1.

Goodbye Universe Boss
Chris Gayle will play is last World Cup innings for West Indies at Headingley and if you like the fairytale finish story he’s 13/5 to be his side’s top scorer, but wouldn’t be my drama.

Nicholas Pooran is a youngster who is going to be the bedrock of the country’s batting for some time along with his 118 from 103 balls against Sri Lanka revealed why Yorkshire have signed him to play during the summer’s T20 Blast. So he will walk out in his new county home ground intent on adding to his own 309 World Cup runs. Shimron Hetmyer and Shai Hope all deliver adequate credentials but Pooran is your drama in an incredibly generous 6/1.

Man of the Match markets intriguing
The Man of the Match markets have given excellent value for a couple of entertaining nibbles through the tournament. Decide on a couple players with the capability of swinging the game and perform half-stakes. My three for this one, avoiding the above selections from the top batting markets to cover more bases, are Chris Gayle 7/1, Shimron Hetmyer 12/1 and Rashid Khan 12/1.