Off-spinner rookie Rahkeem Cornwall snatched the fourth best figures by a West Indies spinner in Tests, as the visitors got the better of the exchanges on the opening day of the one-off Test against Afghanistan today.
On a day when 12 wickets fell at the Atal Bihari Vajpayee International Stadium, Afghanistan were bundled out for a meagre 187 after they were sent in, with the burly 27-year-old Cornwall finishing with a career-best seven for 75.
The hosts were in command at one stage on 84 for one late in the first session but then collapsed to lose their last nine wickets for 103 runs, with fast bowler and captain Jason Holder striking late to finish with two for 22.
Left with just over half a session to navigate, the West Indies lost Kraigg Brathwaite for 11 and Shai Hope for seven en route to ending the day on 68 for two – 119 runs behind heading into Thursday’s day two.
Left-handed opener John Campbell was unbeaten on 30 at the close and partnered by rookie Shamarh Brooks on 19, the pair having so far shared a third wicket stand of 34 to stabilise the innings.
Campbell has already stroked five fours and a six – a slog sweep over mid-wicket off leg-spinner Rashid Khan – in a positive 49-ball stay at the crease.
The spotlight had earlier fallen on Cornwall as he scythed through the Afghanistan innings to give West Indies the upper hard in the contest.
Opener Javed Ahmadi top-scored with 39 while debutant Amir Hamza, batting at number nine, chipped in with 34 and wicketkeeper Afsar Zazai, 32.
In only his second Test following his debut last August against India, Cornwall bowled with guile and accuracy to undermine the Afghanistan innings.
Entering the attack approaching the first hour after new-ball bowlers Holder and Kemar Roach had combined for eight ineffective overs, Cornwall struck in his third over when he had Ibrahim Zadran (17) caught at leg slip by Holder one-handed, diving to his left, off a misguided sweep.
Afghanistan resisted, however, Ahmadi and Ihsanullah (24) posting a valuable 56 for the second wicket to frustrate West Indies late into the session.
Left-arm spinner Jomel Warrican broke the stand four overs before lunch, however, getting Ahmadi to hole out on the ropes at long off, after hitting five fours and a six off 81 deliveries.
And on the stroke of the break, Cornwall picked up his second wicket when Ihsanullah edged a forward defensive prod to Hope at slip, to leave the home side stumbling on 90 for three.
The collapse continued after lunch as Afghanistan lost four wickets for 20 runs in the space of 10 overs, to plunge to 111 for seven. Cornwall accounted for the first three wickets – Rahmat Shah (4) taken low down around the corner by Holder, debutant Nasir Jamal (2) caught low at slip by Hope and Asghar Afghan (4) caught at the wicket slashing at one that bounced.
Cornwall then turned catcher, taking Rashid Khan’s edge inches from the turf at first slip after the Afghan captain was squared up by Holder.
Zazai and Hamza held up the Windies charge in an important 54-run, eighth wicket stand which appeared to be taking Afghanistan to the safety of the tea break.
The right-handed Zazai had struck three fours in a 90-ball knock when he shouldered arms to one from Cornwall which would have struck middle stump, and was plumb lbw to the last ball before the interval, as Afghanistan reached tea on 165 for eight.
Hamza, who counted five fours off 84 deliveries, kept Afghanistan afloat on the resumption in a 22-run ninth wicket partnership with Yamin Ahmadzai (18) before Holder and Cornwall finished off the innings.
In reply, West Indies lost Brathwaite lbw to left-arm spinner Hamza with the score on 27 and Hope followed 13 balls later, edging leg-spinner Rashid Khan to first slip.