September 22, 2021

Mighty efforts in vain amid Afghan, Caribbean dominance

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1. Evin Lewis (West Indies) – 316 runs at 39.50, three fifties

West Indies’ scoring was thin at times during the tournament, but Lewis’ runs column remained consistently fat. He led all openers in runs at the tournament and finished third overall. Most significantly, his three half-centuries came in West Indies’ three tightest wins – against Netherlands, Zimbabwe and Scotland.

2. Kyle Coetzer (Scotland) – 276 runs at 55.20, two fifties

Scotland rode captain Coetzer through most of the group stage to an unbeaten mark. An unbeaten 41 in a low-scoring thriller against Hong Kong was followed by 88 not out against Nepal. He torched Boyd Rankin early in Scotland’s doomed chase against Ireland, a match where his value was highlighted when the wheels quickly came off after his dismissal for 61.

3. Rahmat Shah (Afghanistan) – 280 runs at 35.00, three fifties

In a squad now packed with IPL stars, Rahmat hides in relative anonymity at No. 3. But the 24-year-old was a major reason for Afghanistan’s revival from three losses to start the tournament to a World Cup spot. His 46 against Nepal was followed by a top-score of 68 in the Super-Six win against West Indies, helping the side recover from 17 for 2 early in their chase of 198. The cherry on top was another half-century in the win against West Indies in the tournament final.

4. Brendan Taylor (wk, Zimbabwe) – 457 runs at 65.28, two hundreds and one fifty

The tournament’s leading scorer, Taylor showcased how much he means to the national team, having only recently returned following his initial retirement following the 2015 World Cup. He started the qualifier with an even 100 against Nepal before 89 in a two-run win over Afghanistan. His 138 against West Indies went unrewarded. He finished second in dismissals behind Ireland’s Niall O’Brien.

5. Marlon Samuels (West Indies) – 304 runs at 43.42, three fifties

At 37, the Jamaican showed he’s still got some gas left in the tank and can step on the accelerator if necessary. His first fifty came against Netherlands in the group stage, but more valuable ones against Zimbabwe and Scotland made him a contender for Man of the Series. He bided his time in the Zimbabwe encounter before attacking Graeme Cremer late to ice the chase. With a spot in the World Cup on the line, he dug deep with Lewis against Scotland to lift the side from 2 for 2 in the third over to forge a match-winning 121-run stand.

6. Sikandar Raza (Zimbabwe) – 319 runs at 53.16, one hundred & two fifties; 15 wickets at 17.60

The Man of the Series, not just for his runs and wickets but also for his oratory skills, Raza’s impact was felt throughout the tournament. He began it with a rollicking 123 off 66 balls against Nepal, then followed it with a half-century and three wickets to cripple Afghanistan’s chase in a two-run win. He unselfishly sheltered the tail while constructing a half-century against Ireland in a win that looked like it would be the knock to put Zimbabwe in the World Cup. But perhaps the performance he will be remembered for most during the month of March is the stirring speech he gave after the tournament final.

7. Najibullah Zadran (Afghanistan) – 254 runs at 63.50, three fifties

“Half-man, Half-amazing” showed great maturity in this tournament. With a reputation for bashing and not blocking, he did plenty of the former against Nepal with an unbeaten 52 off 47 balls to secure Afghanistan’s first win of the tournament. But by doing a bit more of the latter against UAE, he helped dig his side out of a major hole 54 for 5 chasing 178 before finishing with 63 not out in another win on their way to an unbeaten run in the Super Sixes.

8. Jason Holder (capt., West Indies) – 219 runs at 36.50, two fifties; 15 wickets at 21.13

Edges out Boyd Rankin for one of the medium-pacer slots due to his all-round impact with bat and ball. Holder kicked off the tournament with a five-for in a high-scoring encounter with UAE, then scored an unbeaten 99 to steer his side out of a tricky spot against PNG. Another half-century against Ireland helped clinch a place in the Super Sixes. His 4 for 35 against Zimbabwe, including the key wicket of Raza, played a major role in keeping the target under 300 for a successful chase.

9. Roelof van der Merwe (Netherlands) – 16 wickets at 12.25

At an event where Netherlands were expected to contend for a World Cup spot, they didn’t even make the Super Sixes. But van der Merwe can shoulder little of the blame. Nursing an elbow injury, the spinning allrounder played every game and ended with 16 wickets, holding the tournament lead at the time Netherlands ended their last game. His impact was felt most severely by Papua New Guinea and Hong Kong as his 4 for 46 and 4 for 18 respectively helped bring an end to each country’s ODI status.

10. Rashid Khan (Afghanistan) – 17 wickets at 20.23

 Edges out team-mate Mujeeb ur Rahman for the other spinner’s slot in the XI. When Rashid did well, the team did well. Of his 17 wickets, 12 came in their four straight wins during the group stage and Super Sixes, showing his resiliency after a rough adjustment to part-time captaincy at the start of the tournament. It began with 3 for 45 against Nepal, followed by 1 for 33 against West Indies, a match in which he also kept his nerve late in the chase to hit an unbeaten 13 in a three-wicket win. He followed that with his fourth ODI five-for against UAE before he continued his history of tormenting Ireland, bagging 3 for 40 in the winner-takes-a-World Cup-slot showdown in the Super Sixes.

11. Safyaan Sharif (Scotland) – 17 wickets at 13.94

The medium-pacer had demonstrated his ability to step up under the pressure of qualification with his 14 wickets at the 2014 World Cup Qualifier in New Zealand. But he outdid himself against an even higher class of opposition in 2018, tying for the tournament lead in wickets. Of his 17 scalps, 12 came in the four matches he played against Full Member teams including his maiden ODI five-for in the tied match against Zimbabwe. He also delivered the ball of the tournament to claim Chris Gayle with the first ball of the match against West Indies.

Top Image: Evin Lewis blasted 84 to set up West Indies’ tall score ICC/Getty Images

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