(Last Updated on January 9, 2016 by Editor)
ZIMBABWE – The recently concluded Afghanistan vs Zimbabwe five-match ODI series witnessed some quality cricket, with the Asian side defeating the African nation 3-2 in tightly-contested affair. The action now shifts to the shortest format of the game, T20, with the first game set to be played in Sharjah on Thursday.
Afghanistan will be a confident unit when they face Zimbabwe, as the former played some good cricket in the ODI series, with victories in the first, second and the deciding ODI in Sharjah. Afghanistan, who were chasing 248 runs in the final ODI, showed some great character to win the game in the 50th over, with a ball to spare.
Afghanistan batsman Mohammad Shahzad was the highest scorer for the Asian team with 237 runs, at a strike rate of 92.57, which suggests that the wicket-keeper batsman will be one of the key players in the two-match T20 series. Afghanistan also possess players such as Mohammad Nabi and Asghar Stanikzai, who could play an integral part in the series with the bat.
While Afghanistan have quality batsmen, it is their bowlers who excelled in the ODI series. Amir Hamza and Dawlat Zardan were the pick of the bowlers, picking up 11 and 10 wickets each.
Zimbabwe will depend on their in-form batsman Hamilton Masakadza, who was the highest scorer in the ODI series with 266 runs, in this T20 series.
Zimbabwe, who were close to a series victory, after pulling it back to 2-2 from 0-2 down, would have been hurt with the loss in the final ODI. Zimbabwe, who won their last T20 match against Bangladesh in November last year, were outplayed by Afghanistan in their last T20 series at home, with the Afghans winning it 2-0. As a result, skipper Elton Chigumbura and his men will be determined to take revenge.
Squads: Afghanistan: Asghar Stanikzai (C), Dawlat Zadran, Hashmatullah Shahidi, Mirwais Ashraf, Mohammad Shahzad (wk), Noor Ali Zadran, Rashid Khan, Samiullah Shenwari, Shafiqullah Shafiq, Yamin Ahmadzai, Amir Hamza, Gulbadin Naib, Karim Sadiq, Mohammad Nabi, Najibullah Zadran, Nawroz Mangal, Rahmat Shah, Rokhan Barakzai, Sayed Shirzad, Usman Ghani, Nawaz Khan.
Zimbabwe: Elton Chigumbura (C), Tendai Chisoro, Craig Ervine, Neville Madziva, Wellington Masakadza, Richmond Mutumbami (wk), Tinashe Panyangara, Malcolm Waller, Chamu Chibhabha, Graeme Cremer, Luke Jongwe, Hamilton Masakadza, Peter Moor, Taurai Muzarabani, Sikandar Raza.
Where to watch live
Afghanistan vs Zimbabwe 1st T20 is scheduled for 8pm local time (9:30pm IST, 4pm GMT, 1pm Zimbabwe and 8:30pm Afghanistan). India viewers can watch the game on Neo Sports.
Zimbabwe viewers can watch the Afghanistan vs Zimbabwe 1st T20 live on DSTV while Afghanistan cricket fans can watch the Afghanistan vs Zimbabwe 1st T20 live on 1TV with live streaming on 1TV Live Online. Ten Sports will offer live coverage of the Afghanistan vs Zimbabwe 1st T20 in Pakistan and the UAE.