LUCKNOW, India (AP) — Teenager Rahmanullah Gurbaz smashed 79 off 52 balls as Afghanistan beat West Indies by 29 runs in the third and final Twenty20 to clinch the series 2-1 on Sunday.
The 17-year-old opener Gurbaz hit six boundaries and five sixes as Afghanistan posted 156-8 after choosing to bat.
Afghanistan seamers, led by Naveen-ul-Haq’s 3-24, then intelligently used the slower deliveries to restrict the West Indies to 127-7. Shai Hope, brought into the team after Denesh Ramdin was ruled out with a hamstring injury, hit a fighting 52 off 46 balls.
“We knew we had to bat well and make 150-plus,” Afghanistan captain Rashid Khan said. “Once we had that total, we knew we have the bowling strength to defend that.”
Unorthodox spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman troubled West Indies with the new ball. Lendl Simmons (7), playing his first match of the series after flu, was clean bowled by Rahman with a sharp googly.
Brandon King (1) again disappointed when he was bowled by Naveen off a slower delivery and Evin Lewis (24) was trapped lbw by Karim Janat as West Indies slipped to 42-3 in eight overs.
Shimron Hetmyer (11) top edged to short third man in Rashid’s first over. And when West Indies skipper Kieron Pollard (11) holed out at deep midwicket in the 18th over, Afghanistan had all but wrapped up the game.
“It was a similar situation to yesterday (the second T20), we found ourselves in a hole in the (batting) powerplay and couldn't dig ourselves out of it,” Pollard said. “I can’t fault the effort of the bowlers, but having said that, the guys would have taken a lot from this series and how to adapt and play on slower pitches.
“We have a long-term plan, but we have to deal with what's in front of us right now.”
Earlier, Gurbaz held Afghanistan’ innings together despite Sheldon Cottrell (2-29) getting two early wickets.
Gurbaz added 50 runs with Asghar Afghan (24) for the fourth wicket and completed his half century off 37 balls before holing out at deep point to Pollard’s wayward delivery in the 17th over.
West Indies won the preceding ODI series 3-0, but Afghanistan came back strongly in the T20 format despite losing the opener by 30 runs. Afghanistan won the second T20 by 41 runs.
The teams have a one-off test match at the same Lucknow venue, starting Nov. 27.