TEST: Brooks, Cornwall put West Indies on brink of victory

SUMMARY: Afghanistan 109-7 (Ahmadi 62, Chase 3-10, Cornwall 3-41) and 187 lead West Indies 277 (Brooks 111, Campbell 55, Hamza 5-74) by 19 runs

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Shamarh Brooks’ maiden Test hundred and Rahkeem Cornwall’s ten-wicket match haul took West Indies on the verge of victory at the end of day two in the one-off Test in Lucknow.

Starting the day on 68-2, West Indies were eventually dismissed for 277, with Brooks’ 111 taking them to a lead of 90. The only bright spot for Afghanistan was debutant Amir Hamza, who ended with figures of 5-74. Then, just like their first innings, Afghanistan squandered another good start and were stuttering at 109-7 at stumps, just 19 ahead.

After conceding a first-innings lead of 90, Javed Ahmadi and Ibrahim Zadran added 53 for the first wicket. While both batsmen looked resolute in their approach, Ahmadi was helped by a slice of luck as well when a bat-pad was taken by Jason Holder at leg slip but replays showed Cornwall had overstepped.

However, an error in judgement from Zadran brought an end to the budding stand as the batsman offered no shot to a Cornwall off-break was given lbw. That was followed by a horrendous mix-up between Ahmadi and Ihsanullah resulting in the latter being run out.

Cornwall then dealt two big blows, dismissing Rahmat Shah and Asghar Afghan in an identical manner. Both got an inside edge onto the pads with Brooks pouching the ball at short leg. Having picked up 7-75 in the first innings, the off-spinner finished the day with match figures of 10-116.

Ahmadi brought up his fifty in company of Nasir Jamal and took the side to 96-5, but Roston Chase’s three quick wickets under the floodlights dented them further. Jamal played down the wrong line and was bowled, while Hamza, the nightwatchman, Ahmadi were taken at first slip.

Rakheem Cornwall celebrates one of his wickets (Windies Cricket Facebook)

Earlier, Brooks showed an enviable mix of attack and defence against the Afghanistan spinners, who appeared desperate for wickets at most times. Rashid Khan, in particular, had a couple of strong lbw appeals turned down that added to their frustration, but in the absence of the DRS, there was no choice but to accept the on-field decisions.

While Afghanistan did make inroads and one wicket invariably brought another, Brooks stayed firm. After counterattacking for the first half of his innings, he assumed a more mellowed approach, especially after lunch but didn’t miss out on the loose deliveries, which the Afghanistan spinners offered in abundance. Rashid, in particular, was at the receiving end as Brooks took 69 off 108 balls from the leg-spinner.

In all, Brooks struck 15 fours and a six in his innings before being bowled by Hamza while looking for quick runs with his side eight wickets down.

John Campbell, the other overnight batsman, took to attack straightaway. The strategy paid off as he deployed a variety of sweeps – slog, lap, reverse – to counter the left-arm spin of Hamza and took 15 from the bowler’s second over of the day. He brought up his maiden Test fifty with a single to deep square-leg, courtesy of a conventional sweep.

Brooks was more orthodox at the other end but no less attacking. In one Rashid over, he struck two fours and a six as West Indies went past 100. Campbell and he added 82 in just 19.1 overs before Hamza broke the stand with Campbell’s wicket for 55, scored in 75 balls.

But it was as much Ihsanullah’s wicket too, as the slip fielder moved swiftly to his right upon seeing Campbell shaping up for a lap sweep, put in the dive and completed the catch one-handed.

Shimron Hetmyer and Chase didn’t last long after that. Hetmyer was trapped lbw by Rashid Khan and Chase fell to left-arm wristspinner Zahir Khan, caught at short leg off an inside edge.

At 150-5, it looked like Afghanistan had clawed their way back, but their hopes were thwarted by Dowrich. Like the other batsmen before him, Dowrich too started in an aggressive manner, hitting three fours in no time to move to 15 off as many balls.

But it wasn’t that the Afghanistan spinners didn’t create any chances. Apart from the lbw shouts, Rashid got Brooks to edge one behind but Afsar Zazai failed to latch on. The batsman was on 59 at that time.

Brooks and Dowrich added 74 for the sixth wicket and took the side into the lead. But once Zahir Khan got Dowrich lbw, for 42, the rest of the batting didn’t last long as Hamza picked up three of the remaining four wickets. Jason Holder was stumped off for 11, while Kemar Roach was trapped lbw.

In between Cornwall was wrongly given out lbw off Rashid, with the ball brushing the inside edge on its way to the pads. (ESPNCricinfo)

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