West Indies play Afghanistan in Cricket World Cup on Thursday
Will Chris Gayle blow hot in what should be his final ODI in England?
Last Updated: 04/07/19 1:17pm
Chris Gayle is poised to play his final ODI in England as West Indies look to round off a disappointing World Cup campaign with victory over Afghanistan at Headingley on Thursday.
Gayle and West Indies started the tournament so well, with the batsman smashing a brisk 50 against Pakistan as his team reached their lowly target of 106 in 13.4 overs after skittling their opponents in 21.4.
But Jason Holder's side have not won since, despite valiant showings against New Zealand and Sri Lanka when Carlos Brathwaite and Nicholas Pooran respectively hit maiden ODI tons in defeat.
Pooran's 118 against Sri Lanka on Monday threatened to see West Indies pull off the highest World Cup run chase of all time but they slipped to a 23-run loss once he was ousted by Angelo Mathews - leaving Rihanna, who was watching on in Durham, disappointed.
Whether the Barbadian pop princess is following West Indies to Leeds is unknown - but if she is, she could witness another competitive game against the only team below Holder's in the standings.
Rock-bottom Afghanistan have played eight and lost eight in the World Cup - but have come close to pulling off victories against India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka before fading at the death.
What will give Afghanistan confidence, though, is that they have won three of their four completed ODIs against West Indies, including twice at the ICC World Cup Qualifier in Zimbabwe last March, a tournament both sides progressed from to complete the 10-team field.
Another victory at Headingley would see their coach, former West Indies player Phil Simmons, bow out from his role on a high note - but it could be Rihanna reaching the high notes if Windies win.
West Indies seamer Kemar Roach could replace Shannon Gabriel in the XI - Gabriel has taken just two wickets in three World Cup games at an average of 86.50. Afghanistan, meanwhile, could hand a debut to left-armer Sayed Shirzad with right-armer Hamid Hassan nursing a hamstring strain.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Gayle for West Indies - the Jamaican will be eyeing his second ODI hundred in England, a whopping 15 years after his first, an unbeaten 132 against England at Lord's. To do that, though, he will have to see off Afghanistan leg-spinner Rashid Khan, who averages a staggering 9.75 against the Caribbean side in ODIs and took 7-18 against them in St Lucia in 2017.
WHAT ARE THEY SAYING?
Nicholas Pooran on West Indies' World Cup: "It just wasn't a successful tournament for us but every good sportsman knows you fail more than you win. Each day I want to get better and better, but I don't want to be like anyone else. I just want to be Nicholas Pooran."
Watch every game of the Cricket World Cup live on Sky Sports, continuing with Afghanistan vs West Indies from 10am on Thursday.
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