LUCKNOW     -      Shamarh Brooks’ maiden Test century and Rahkeem Cornwall’s match haul of ten wickets took West Indies to the doorstep of victory by the end of day two of the one-off Test in Lucknow.

After starting the day on 68 for 2, West Indies were bowled out for 277, with Brooks’ 111 giving them a lead of 90. The only bright spot for Afghanistan was debutant Amir Hamza, who ended with figures of 5 for 74. Then, just like in their first innings, the hosts squandered another good start and were stuttering at 109 for 7 at stumps, just 19 runs in front. Javed Ahmadi and Ibrahim Zadran gave Afghanistan a 53-run start. While both batsmen looked resolute in their approach, Ahmadi was helped by a slice of luck as well when he was caught at leg slip but replays showed Cornwall had overstepped. However, an error in judgement from Zadran brought an end to the stand as the batsman offered no shot to a Cornwall offbreak and was given lbw. That was followed by a horrendous mix-up between Ahmadi and Ihsanullah, resulting in the latter being run out.

Cornwall then dealt two big blows, dismissing Rahmat Shah and Asghar Afghan in identical manner. Both of them got inside edges on to their pads, and Brooks pouched the chances at short leg. Having picked up 7 for 75 in the first innings, the offspinner finished the day with a match haul of 10 for 116. Ahmadi brought up his fifty in the company of Nasir Jamal, and took Afghanistan to 96 for 5, but three quick strikes from Roston Chase under the floodlights dented them further. Jamal played down the wrong line and was bowled, while Hamza, the nightwatchman, and Ahmadi were taken at first slip.

Earlier, Brooks showcased excellent mix of attack and defence against the Afghanistan spinners, who tried too hard for wickets at most times. Rashid Khan had a couple of strong lbw appeals turned down and that added to their frustration. However, in the absence of DRS for the game, there was no choice but to accept the on-field decisions. While Afghanistan did make inroads and one wicket invariably brought another, Brooks stayed firm. After counter-attacking for the first half of his innings, he assumed a more measured approach after lunch but didn’t miss out on the loose deliveries. Rashid, in particular, was at the receiving end as Brooks took 69 off 108 balls from the legspinner. In all, Brooks struck 15 fours and a six before being bowled by Hamza while looking for quick runs with his side eight wickets down.

John Campbell, the other overnight batsman, took to attack straightaway. The strategy paid off as he deployed a variety of sweeps - slog, lap, reverse - to counter the left-arm spin of Hamza and took 15 from the bowler’s second over of the day. He brought up his maiden Test fifty with a single to deep square-leg, courtesy a conventional sweep.

Brooks was more orthodox at the other end but no less attacking. In one Rashid over, he struck two fours and a six as West Indies went past 100. Campbell and he added 82 in just 19.1 overs before Hamza broke the stand with Campbell’s wicket for 55, scored in 75 balls. But it was as much Ihsanullah’s wicket too, as the slip fielder moved swiftly to his right upon seeing Campbell shaping up for a lap sweep, put in the dive and completed the catch one-handed. Shimron Hetmyer and Chase didn’t last long and at 150 for 5, it looked like Afghanistan had clawed their way back. But Shane Dowrich thwarted their hopes. Like the batsmen before him, Dowrich too started aggressively, hitting three fours in no time to move to 15 in as many balls. It wasn’t that the Afghanistan spinners didn’t create any chances. Apart from the lbw shouts, Rashid got Brooks to edge one behind but Afsar Zazai dropped the catch. The batsman was on 59 at that time.

Brooks and Dowrich added 74 for the sixth wicket and took the side into the lead. But once Zahir Khan got Dowrich lbw, the rest of the batting didn’t last long. Hamza picked up three of the remaining four wickets, while Cornwall was wrongly given out lbw off Rashid, with the ball brushing the inside edge on its way to the pads.