Brathwaite, Hetmyer shine as Windies struggle
There were ominous signs for the Windies ahead of next week's one-off Test against Afghanistan after they suffered a batting failure on the opening day of their solitary tour match against an Afghanistan Cricket Board XI yesterday.
Choosing to bat first, the Windies slumped to 168 all out in their first innings on a tough day at the Atal Bihari Vajpayee International Stadium on a pitch already offering generous turn.
Experienced opener Kraigg Brathwaite played with his usual dogged determination to top score with 46, while left-hander Shimron Hetmyer showed fluency in an attractive 38 but other than Shai Hope's 26 and wicketkeeper Shane Dowrich's 23, no other batsman passed 10.
Windies bowlers had hit back by the close, however, reducing the hosts to 49 for three with off-spinner Rahkeem Cornwall finishing with two for 27.
Hoping for a productive warm-up in the four-day fixture following a mixed limited overs series, Windies lost left-hander John Campbell cheaply for four with the score on 24 in the day's eighth over.
However, Brathwaite and Hope combined in a 27-run second wicket stand which kept the Board XI attack at bay for the remainder of the first hour.
Hope's dismissal - caught at slip off left-arm spinner Hamza Hotak - sparked a mini collapse for the Windies as they lost three wickets for nine runs to slip to 61 for four.
The right-hander struck three sparkling fours - a drive, a cut and a hook - in an over off lively seamer Yamin Ahmadzai (3-33).
Windies then enjoyed their best period of the game as Hetmyer joined Brathwaite to put on a valuable 57 for the fifth wicket.
Brathwaite faced 135 balls and spent close to three hours at the crease, stroking seven fours, while Hetmyer counted six silky boundaries on both sides of the wicket, in an innings requiring only 43 balls in just under an hour.
On 88 for four at lunch, Windies suffered a major collapse following the break, losing their last six wickets for 50 runs to be all out at the tea interval.
The slide started when Hetmyer was adjudged leg-before-wicket to veteran fast bowler Dawlat Zadran and Brathwaite followed with six runs added, bowled by left-arm spinner Hamza Hotak, the leading wicket-taker with four for 34 off 23.3 consecutive overs from the northern end.
Cornwall then extracted generous turn and bounce and look menacing on a surface already offering help to the slow bowlers, as the Board XI lost wickets frequently.
He trapped Ihsanullah plumb in front for a 'duck' at 22 for two and in the day's final over, had Rahmat Shah (14) well caught low down by Shamarh Brooks close in at leg slip.
Javed Ahmadi was unbeaten on a patient 21.