Successful Zimbabwe tour for Afghanistan
The great success story of Afghan cricket continued over the past two weeks as they completed a successful tour of Zimbabwe. They became the first associate member to beat a full member in a bilateral ODI series, and followed this with two excellent chases in the two T20I matches.
The first ODI of the series didn't go to plan, as Afghanistan could only muster 122 batting first, and lost by 8 wickets. This was followed by a much improved performance in the second ODI when a fine century from Mohammad Nabi led Afghanistan to 271-6. They then bowled the home side out for 213 to win by 58 runs.
They then found themselves a match down in the series again when a total of 223-8 wasn't enough to prevent a Zimbabwe win, the home side winning by 6 wickets with two balls to spare. The subsequent fourth ODI saw Zimbabwe bat first for the first time in the series, scoring 186. An innings of 80 from 81 balls by Mohammad Shahzad then helped Afghanistan record a 3 wicket win to keep the series alive.
In the fifth and final ODI, Afghanistan were put into bat by Zimbabwe and scored 245-9 from their 50 overs. Sean Williams scored a century for Zimbabwe in reply, and he was eventually stumped by Shahzad shortly after reaching his century. His 102 was by far the highest score of the home innings though, as the next highest was Luke Jongwe's 16. Dawlat Zadran took 4-22 as they were bowled out for 172.
The 73 run win meant that Afghanistan were the first associate to beat a full member in a bilateral ODI series, but there was still the matter of two T20 internationals to contend with.
Zimbabwe won the toss and chose to bat first in the first of those matches, with Sikander Raza and Chamu Chibhabha putting on 100 for the opening wicket. Both openers scored half centuries, with Raza top scoring with 59 from 41 balls.
Afghanistan's innings started with a typical innings from Mohammad Shahzad, who scored 34 from 21 balls as they scored 48 in the first six overs. Mohammad Nabi and Najibullah Zadran scored unbeaten innings of 33 and 37 respectively as Afghanistan completed a six wicket win with five balls to spare.
Zimbabwe again batted first in the second T20I. Their innings was led by Sean Williams who brought up his fifty in 21 balls before getting out for 54. The final Zimbabwe total of 190-7 was likely to be a stiff task for Afghanistan.
They were up to the task though. Usman Ghani top scored for them with 65 from 45 balls, but the star of their innings was Gulbadeen Naib, who scored 56 from 31 balls to help the visitors record a five wicket win from the penultimate ball.
Afghanistan's next scheduled match will be an Intercontinental Cup match against Papua New Guinea at Sharjah starting on the 21st of November.