Batting all-rounder the right label for me, insists West Indies' Rahkeem Cornwall

Cornwall would like to stick to the label despite a seven-wicket haul against Afghanistan.

Rahkeem Cornwall: "When I get an opportunity I'll show what I can do with the bat." Photo: Shayan Acharya   -  CPL

Rahkeem Cornwall loves calling himself a batting all-rounder and would like to stick to the label despite a seven-wicket haul against Afghanistan on Wednesday.

At the Ekana International Stadium on Thursday, the 26-year-old put Afghanistan on the mat with his dominant bowling performance, but he still wants to prove his mettle with the bat, as and when an opportunity comes his way. “I still stick to ‘batting all-rounder’. I can bat so when I get the opportunity I will show what I can do with the bat,” he said after the day’s play.

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Playing in his second Test, not many thought Cornwall would turn out to be a game changer, but he relied on his natural game to bundle Afghanistan out for a meagre 187. After losing three wickets before lunch, Afghan batting line-up collapsed like a house of cards in the second session.

'Crucial' period of play

Cornwall admitted captain Jason Holder had advised the team to push hard in the session between lunch and tea. “Obviously those times are crucial times, so the captain asked us to keep pushing and make sure we get that wicket before lunch. Right after lunch is very crucial to pick up wickets as well,” Cornwall stated.

On a surface that aided the tweakers, Cornwall came up with top spin to frustrate the Afghan batsmen, and that move worked. “Basically if the ball is spinning, you just have to make sure you get your top-spinner right and that’s the one that goes on [straight]. I just backed myself,” he said.

'Good purchase'

Cornwall also praised captain Holder for providing with proper field set-up. “The captain gives me an attacking field, so I made sure I bowl to my field. I was getting good purchase.”

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The Antiguan made his Test debut against India in September this year, and as he played a longer-format fixture again, was there any area where he worked on? “Nothing really changed. It’s just about building pressure and putting the ball in the right areas.”

Cornwall insisted his height — six feet six inches — was not an advantage. “I don’t think it’s an advantage. I think that it’s my natural talent. I just have to keep working on my game and see how far it can take me,” he said.

'Good decision to bowl first'

On Wednesday, West Indies decided to bowl despite winning the toss, a move that many thought was bizarre. But the visiting side wanted to reap benefits of the early conditions. “When we looked at the wicket this morning there was a lot of moisture. So I think it was a good decision to bowl first,” Rahkeem said.

Trailing by 119 runs in the first innings, West Indies still has some work to do and a lot will depend on how John Campbell and Shamarh Brooks fare on the second day. “The two guys at the crease now are batting well. If these guys can take us till lunch tomorrow and then we get a good first innings score, in the second innings we’ll see how the wicket plays and take it from there,” Cornwall said.

After a successful outing with the ball, he would like to see his team end the campaign on a high.

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