Windies will look to tick the basic boxes when they face Afghanistan in the first of three One-Day Internationals at the Darren Sammy National Cricket stadium in St Lucia on Friday (June 9).
Having swept the Associates in the preceding three-match Twenty20 International series, Jason Holder’s men will have their tails up coming into this series, but they will have to guard against complacency.
Afghanistan have won their last two ODI series. Although those came against Zimbabwe and Ireland, it goes to show that they have enough in their arsenal to inspire a surprise on their day.
That won’t be easy for Asghar Stanikzai’s boys to achieve, especially with Windies in good touch.
The absence of Marlon Samuels will come as a relief since the temperamental batsmen was in exceptional nick during the T20Is. His unbeaten 89 in the final T20I helped Windies chase down 147 with four balls to spare. But that doesn’t mean Afghanistan are out of woods yet.
Windies drafted an uncapped Roston Chase into the ODI squad for this series, and he is a force to reckon with. He doesn’t possess the long-handle wielding abilities of Samuels but having been the backbone of Windies’s middle-order in Tests over the last 12 months, he knows a thing or two about playing the anchor role. In a side with as many stroke-makers, an anchorman is a blessing.
Moreover, the series gives Chase, who has so far played 14 List A games, a chance to establish his value as an all-format player. Given the nature of the pitch in St Lucia, the off-spinner might not have to turn his arm over as much as he does in Tests, but he can always be used as an option to restrict batsmen.
Another concern for Afghanistan will be the return of Holder, the Windies ODI skipper who was rested for the T20Is. Of course, with the likes of Kieron Pollard and Sunil Narine not featuring in ODIs, Afghanistan will feel less bogged down by stars.
Speaking of stars, Afghanistan have two of their own and should they come good, Afghanistan’s chances will grow significantly. Mohammad Nabi and Rashid Khan have proved their prowess in the past for their side but their stocks have hit the roof since their performances in the Indian Premier League.
They could use someone like Mohammad Shahzad at this point but he’s serving a suspension.
Afghanistan have included Rahmat Shah, Nasir Jamal and Afsar Zazai to the ODI set-up to bolster their options, but it remains to be seen how best they use their resources to stage an upset.
Windies: Jason Holder (capt), Devendra Bishoo, Jonathan Carter, Roston Chase, Miguel Cummins, Shannon Gabriel, Shai Hope (wk), Alzarri Joseph, Evin Lewis, Jason Mohammed, Ashley Nurse, Kieran Powell, Rovman Powell.
Afghanistan: Asghar Stanikzai (captain), Noor Ali Zadran, Javed Ahmadi, Usman Ghani, Rahmat Shah, Nasir Jamal, Mohammad Nabi, Samiullah Shenwari, Gulbadin Naib, Rashid Khan, Shafiqullah Shafaq, Shapoor Zadran, Hamza Hotak, Dawlat Zadran, Afsar Zazai, Farid Malik.