Afghanistan have often won matches in the past thanks to their group of pace bowlers, who are amongst the best in associate cricket. But now they have a group of spin bowlers who can also do damage, as was the case in yesterday's second ODI against Zimbabwe in Harare.
After winning the toss and choosing to bat first, Afghanistan scored usually slowly to start with, with the opening pair of Mohammad Shahzad and Noor Ali Zadran putting on 34 in the first 10 overs. Even with Shahzad at the crease, the run rate crept only just above four as he and Rahmat Shah took the score to 118 from 27 overs.
That partnership ended when Shahzad was bowled by Graeme Cremer for 64, and Shah took his score to 53 before Tendai Chatara got him out lbw. Mohammad Nabi got the run rate up with a run a ball 33, whilst Najibullah Zadran batted with the lower order to score 45 before getting out from the penultimate ball of the innings.
The final total for the visitors was 238-9, with Tendai Chatara the pick of the Zimbabwean bowlers with 3-36.
Zimbabwe's run chase started well enough with Solomon Mire and Peter Moor putting on 69 in 14.1 overs before Mire was bowled by Rashid Khan for 54 from 55 balls. Gulbadin Naib would take two of the next three wickets, but the rest all went to spin.
Mohammad Nabi and Rashid Khan both took three wickets, whilst Amir Hamza took two as Zimbabwe were bowled out for 184 to lose by 54 runs. The series continues on Tuesday.
Zimbabwe lost to Afghanistan by 54 runs
Harare Sports Club, 19 February
Afghanistan 238-9 (50 overs, Mohammad Shahzad 64, Rahmat Shah 53, Najibullah Zadran 45, T Chatara 3-36)
Zimbabwe 184 (42.1 overs, S Mire 54, Rashid Khan 3-25, Mohammad Nabi 3-38)