WI vs AFG: Cornwall's seven for 75 puts Afghanistan on the back foot

West Indies' Rahkeem Cornwall grabbed 7-75 as Afghanistan was bundled out for 187 on the opening day.

Rahkeem Cornwall tormented the Afghanistan batsmen with his spin at the Ekana International Stadium in Lucknow on Wednesday.   -  Special Arrangement

As the West Indies cricketers trained at the Ekana International Stadium on Tuesday afternoon, Rahkeem Cornwall was sitting quietly in the dug-out. Covering his knee with a black pad, the all-rounder observed his team-mates, but questions remained on whether he would be able to feature in the lone Test against Afghanistan.

West Indies coach Phil Simmons however, told the scribes that it was just an ice pack and there were no fitness issues for the 26-year-old Cornwall. Soon after the coach was done with his interaction with the media, the six-feet five inches tall cricketer headed to the nets to get ready for the Test assignment. He trained for a while under the watchful eyes of coach Simmons and captain Jason Holder.

And on Wednesday, Cornwall grabbed 7-75 to put Afghanistan on the mat, on the very first day of the Test match.

After winning the toss, West Indies decided to field — a decision that many found bizarre. But playing in his second Test match, Cornwall — who weighs around 140 kilograms and is considered the heaviest Test cricketer ever — proved Jason Holder’s decision to be correct as he reaped the benefits of a 'friendly’ track.

In the Indian conditions where spin holds the key, the West Indies outfits have struggled in the past, but Cornwall ensured there was no slipping-up this time. Cornwall kept the pressure on the home team, as it suffered a middle-order batting collapse. From being at 84-1, Afghanistan folded up for 187 with its batsmen looking clueless against Cornwall.

When he was inducted in West Indies’ playing XI for the second Test against India in September this year, he surpassed former Australia captain Warwick Armstrong, who weighed 133-139 kg, as the heaviest Test cricketer. But he scalped three wickets against a star-studded Indian team to prove his class.

As a right-hand batsman, Cornwall scored 2,224 runs in 55 matches in his five-year first class cricket career. In those outings, he took 260 wickets with an economy of 2.86.

Since being drafted into the Test set-up, the Antiguan has been having a memorable run in the longer format of the game.

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