Shai Hope's 109* helps West Indies whitewash Afghanistan
Afghanistan have now lost their last 12 ODIs, a streak that began with the 2019 World Cup
West Indies 253 for 5 (Hope 109*, Chase 42*, Mujeeb 2-49) beat Afghanistan 249 for 7 (Asghar 86, Nabi 50*, Zazai 50, Paul 3-44) by five wickets
Shai Hope's unbeaten hundred helped West Indies complete a 3-0 whitewash as they beat Afghanistan by five wickets in the final ODI in Lucknow. The last time they whitewashed a team was against Bangladesh in 2014.
To Afghanistan's credit, they put up their best performance of the series but it still wasn't good enough to fetch them a win. They have now lost their last 12 ODIs, a streak that had began with the 2019 World Cup.
After being put in, Afghanistan posted 249 for 7 on the back of Asghar Afghan's 85-ball 86, studded with six sixes and three fours. He was well supported by the half-centuries from Hazratullah Zazai and Mohammad Nabi.
But the target didn't prove big enough for West Indies. Shai Hope continued his good form and anchored the chase with 109 not out off 145 balls and saw the side home in the company of Roston Chase, with eight balls to spare.
Afghanistan would have fancied their chances when Mujeeb Ur Rahman dismissed Evin Lewis and Shimron Hetmyer in a double-wicket maiden in the third over. Both batsmen played back to carrom balls and were trapped lbw.
With score 4 for 2, debutant Brandon King joined hands with Hope and the two added 64 for the third wicket to bring West Indies back in the contest. King got off the mark in international cricket with a boundary through extra-cover, and hit five fours and a six in his 56-ball 39 before Rashid Khan bowled him with a googly.
Hope stayed firm and along with Nicholas Pooran added 51 in 55 balls for the fourth wicket. Left-arm spinner Sharafuddin Ashraf broke the stand when Pooran was caught at long-on while attempting a big hit. West Indies needed 131 from 129 balls at that point but Kieron Pollard promoted himself up the order and took the game away from Afghanistan with a counter-attacking 32 off 26.
The West Indies captain hit Ashraf for 4, 6 and 6 off successive balls, bringing the equation down to 85 required from 90 balls.
Nabi removed Pollard in the 38th over to give Afghanistan a glimmer of hope but Chase continued in Pollard's vein. At the other end, Hope got to his seventh ODI hundred off 133 balls and the two gave Afghanistan no chance of a comeback, adding brisk 71 for the sixth wicket with Chase.
West Indies rested Jason Holder and Sheldon Cottrell but that didn't have any impact on the final result. The Afghanistan batsmen once again failed to rotate the strike at the start of their innings, playing out 43 dot balls in the first ten overs. But unlike the first two ODIs, Zazai found the middle of the bat and that meant that had reached 45 for 2 by that time.
Zazai started with two fours off Alzarri Joseph in the first over of the innings before hitting a six and a four in the seamer's fourth over. In between, Joseph had plucked out debutant Ibrahim Zadran and would have had Rahmat Shah too had Evin Lewis held on to a chance at cover.
Rahmat, though, could add only eight more to his tally and was dismissed for 10 when he ended up pulling Keemo Paul to Pooran at deep midwicket. Ikram Alikhil too found it difficult to score and lost his off stump to Paul for 9 off 29.
Zazai brought up his fifty off 57 balls but became Paul's third victim soon after, leaving Afghanistan 74 for 4 in the 20th over. Asghar and Najibullah Zadran took them past 100 but it was the 127-run sixth-wicket stand between Asghar and Nabi that revived the innings.
The duo started slowly, ensuring there was no lower-order collapse like the first two ODIs. Afghanistan lumbered to 162 at the end of 40 overs, but they had five wickets in hand and two well-set batsmen in the middle.
Both Asghar and Nabi opened up in the death overs with Asghar taking the aerial route in particular. His six over extra-cover off Hayden Walsh Jr brought up the 200 for Afghanistan in the 46th over, and back-to-back hits over long-off and long-on off Joseph in the penultimate over pushed the total towards 250. Afghanistan looted 87 from the last ten overs, but it didn't prove enough in the end.
Hemant Brar is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo