One-off Test, Day 1: Cornwall's seven-wicket haul puts Windies on top

Rahkeem Cornwall returned a seven-wicket haul as West Indies bowled Afghanistan out for 187 on day one of the one-off Test in Lucknow.

Rahkeem Cornwall bowls on the opening day of the one-off Test against Afghanistan.   -  Special Arrangement

A five-wicket haul is what every bowler eyes, be it in domestic cricket or an international fixture. For West Indies’ spin all-rounder, Rahkeem Cornwall, it turned out to be a memorable Wednesday as he grabbed a maiden seven-wicket haul, giving away just 75 runs, to put Afghanistan on the mat on the first day of the one-off Test at the Ekana International Stadium.

Playing in his second Test, the ‘Mountain Man’ of West Indies cricket -- who weighs around 140 kilograms and is considered the heaviest Test cricketer ever -- kept the inexperienced Afghan batting line-up tied down and restricted it to a paltry 187 in the first innings.

After his heroics put the visitor on top, West Indies ended the day at 68-2, with Shamarh Brooks (19) and John Campbell (30) holding fort. However, it still has a long way to go, but the visiting side would be happy that its decision to field was vindicated. With conditions being foggy in the morning, West Indies captain Jason Holder put Afghanistan in to bat — a decision which many found bizarre, especially when the side lacked depth in spin bowling.

Read: Cornwall claims career-best figures

But on a track that aided the tweakers, Cornwall and Jomel Warrican proved Jason Holder’s decision to be correct as they reaped the benefits of a ‘friendly’ track. Afghanistan suffered a middle-order collapse, despite a steady start. After the exit of Javed Ahmadi (39) and Ihshanullah (24) — who put together a partnership of 56 runs for the second wicket — Cornwall and Warrican tightened the noose.

And from being at 84-1, Afghanistan folded up for 187 with its batsmen looking clueless against Cornwall.

On the eve of the Test match, Afghanistan coach, Lance Klusener, had admitted that since the longer format of the game is a new thing for his side, they are setting small targets to get used to it. But that determination was missing in the camp as none of the middle-order batsmen could step up. If not for the handy knocks by wicketkeeper-batsman Afsar Zazai (32) and Amir Hamza (34), the side wouldn’t have managed to cross the 150-run mark.

Later in the day, however, West Indies, too, found itself in a spot, losing Kraigg Brathwaite and Shai Hope, in quick succession. But with Campbell and Brooks managing to tackle the Afghan spinners, there was not much trouble till the end of day's play.

While it was a day to remember for 26-year-old Cornwall, not many cricket fans could watch him in action as the Afghanistan Cricket Board was unable to find a rights holder for the telecast of the Test match in India. However, there was live streaming on YouTube and the fixture was also aired in Afghanistan.

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