ZIMBABWE – Mohammad Nabi’s maiden One-Day International century lifted Afghanistan and powered it to a 58-run win in the second match against Zimbabwe, restoring parity in the five-match series. When the two sides meet in the third ODI at the Queens Sports Club in Bulawayo on Tuesday (October 20), the scoreline will read 1-1
Zimbabwe was eyeing a commanding lead coming into the second ODI, having won the first match convincingly after chasing down Afghanistan’s 122 all out in less than 24 overs. In that match, Wellington Masakadza’s outstanding figures of 4 for 21 helped the home side win by eight wickets. However, Afghanistan turned its fortunes around remarkably well with an all-round show that was impressive.
Nabi sparked the revival by scoring 116 off 121 balls, with some fearless six-hitting in an innings that had six shots go for maximum alongside three fours. Noor Ali Zadran also played a good hand, with 60 off 99 at the top of the order as Afghanistan racked up a commanding 271 for 6.
A number of Zimbabwe’s batsmen got starts, but Afghanistan’s bowlers held sway, not allowing the scores and partnerships to develop into a significant threat, and the visiting side took control once Tinotenda Mutumbodzi and Craig Ervine fell in successive overs.
All the Afghanistan bowlers were among the wickets, and the turnaround signalled that while Zimbabwe may be the favourite as the more established side and playing in home conditions, the visiting side could not be taken lightly.
Afghanistan also showed clear signs of improvement in the batting department and gave something for its new head coach, former Pakistan great, Inzamam-Ul-Haq, to cheer.
Zimbabwe had come into this series on the back of a 2-1 series triumph against Ireland, and brimming with confidence, but with Afghanistan’s latest show, the series will be very tightly fought, with an even contest in store.
This is a crucial match for both sides, since the winner will be in a good position to push for a series win with a 2-1 lead, while the losing side will have to try and win the fourth and fifth ODIs. Both sides have shown they have what it takes to close out matches, now it will come down to who can sustain the momentum better.
Zimbabwe: Chamu Chibhabha, Richmond Mutumbami (wk), Brian Chari, Sean Williams, Elton Chigumbura (capt), Sikandar Raza, Tino Mutombodzi, Luke Jongwe, Wellington Masakadza, Taurai Muzarabani, John Nyumbu, Tendai Chisoro, Neville Madziva, Tinashe Panyangara, Craig Ervine.
Afghanistan: Asghar Stanikzai (capt), Dawlat Zadran, Shapoor Zadran, Aftab Alam, Mohammad Shahzad (wk), Najibullah Zadran, Mirwais Ashraf, Shafiqullah, Samiullah Shenwari, Nawroz Mangal, Mohammad Nabi, Hashmatullah Shahidi, Fareed Ahmad, Amir Hamza.