Afghanistan have lost the opening match of their four ODI series against Zimbabwe today in Bulawayo.

Batting first after Zimbabwe captain Brendan Taylor opted to field first, Afghanistan struggled in the early part of their innings. Usman Ghani was dismissed in the second over with no score on the board, and Afghanistan found runs hard to come by for much of the rest of their innings.

When the other opening batsman Noor Ali Zadran was the fourth man out in the 36th over, he had scored 43 from 107 balls, with his team having scored just 99 in that time. The middle order managed to give the Afghan total a little more respectability though, putting on another 124 in the last 14 overs.

Samiullah Shenwari top scored for the Afghans with 65, whilst captain Mohammad Nabi helped increase the scoring rate with 54 from 32 balls to take his team to a total of 223-9.

Shapoor Zadran had Vusi Sibanda caught behind early on in the Zimbabwean reply, but he was the only bowler to cause any real trouble for the hosts. Sikandar Raza, who retired hurt, Brendan Taylor and Sean Williams combined to put on 93 for the third wicket before Taylor was out for 43.

That partnership was followed by one of 85 for the fourth wicket between Williams and Elton Chigumbura, with Williams making 70, the top score of the match, before he was caught and bowled by Mohammad Nabi. Sikandar Raza then came back out to finish off the six wicket win with Chigumbura.

The second match in the series will be played at the same venue on Sunday.

Zimbabwe beat Afghanistan by 5 wickets
Queens Sports Club, Bulawayo, 18 July
Afghanistan 223-9 (50 overs, Samiullah Shenwari 65, Mohammad Nabi 54, Noor Ali Zadran 43)
Zimbabwe 227-4 (45.2 overs, S Williams 70, B Taylor 43, Sikandar Raza 42*)