Zimbabwe – 228 all out in 50 overs (Innocent Kaia 63, Ryan Burl 51*, Sikandar Raza 40; Fareed Ahmad 3/56, Mohammad Nabi 2/31, Fazalhaq Farooqi 2/34)
Afghanistan – 229-2 in 44.3 overs (Ibrahim Zadran 120*, Rahmat Shah 88, Rahmanullah Gurbaz 4; Donald Tiripano 1/32, Blessing Muzarabani 1/42)
Afghanistan won by eight wickets
Opening batter Innocent Kaia and middle-order aggressor Ryan Burl both scored good fifties, but their efforts could not save Zimbabwe from going down to Afghanistan by eight wickets in the second one-day international match at Harare Sports Club on Monday.
The top performance of the day was Afghanistan’s second-wicket partnership of 195 between Ibrahim Zadran and Rahmat Shah, with the former scoring a century.
Afghanistan won the toss on a sunny morning, an advantage for them as batting conditions were easier in the afternoon, and they put Zimbabwe in to bat.
There was immediate trouble for the home side as Regis Chakabva, opening the batting with Kaia, was beaten and trapped lbw by a full swinging second delivery from Fazalhaq Farooqi without a run on the board.
Farooqi bowled a superb opening spell, beating Craig Ervine several times, but he survived to bat steadily and add 47 in 12 overs with Kaia before he too fell lbw to Fareed Ahmad as he tried to play a straight ball to the leg side.
Ervine was just beginning to open out when he was dismissed for 32 off 46 balls.
Wessly Madhevere played quite a fluent innings of 15 from 23 balls before he became the third successive lbw victim, this one to Rashid Khan, like Ervine hitting across a straight ball – 84 for three in the 20th over.
Kaia meanwhile was batting superbly after a cautious start, and he was now joined by Sikandar Raza, who survived an early chance.
Kaia reached his first international fifty off 59 balls, and the pair began to take charge of the bowling.
Afghanistan responded by tightening up their bowling and fielding, and for a while the batters found it harder going.
Kaia hit Mujeeb ur Rahman for a superb six over long-off, while Raza pulled Ahmad over the square-leg boundary, but the stand ended at 151 in the 32nd over when a top edge from Kaia off Ahmad was well caught by the leaping wicket-keeper.
He had batted wonderfully well to score 63 off 74 balls, with a six and six fours.
Milton Shumba came and went for just a single to Ahmad, a fourth lbw decision against Zimbabwe as he played back to a full-length ball at 153 for five in the 34th over.
Burl hit the second and third deliveries he faced for four, although the latter was a thick edge to third man.
However, he then lost Raza, who scored 40 off 57 balls before cutting a delivery from Mohammad Nabi to short third man to make the score an uncertain 168 for six wickets in the 36th over.
Three wickets had gone down for 17 runs, and the last two recognised batters were together as Donald Tiripano joined Burl.
Unfortunately, Tiripano soon went for five, bowled off the inside edge by Rashid Khan, quickly followed by Tendai Chatara, who failed to score as he drove a ball from Nabi to extra cover, leaving Zimbabwe on 177 for eight after 38 overs.
Blessing Muzarabani, next in, played the right innings, taking no risks but concentrating on giving Burl the strike.
Burl was unable to find the boundary as he does so often in his best innings, but he was able to keep the score moving, and the pair put on 46 valuable runs in less than 11 overs before Muzarabani was finally bowled for nine by a good fast yorker from Farooqi.
Nine balls were now left as Tanaka Chivanga arrived at the crease, and Burl was able to face the final over.
However, it was a superb over from Farooqi that beat Burl’s flailing bat – he managed to hit only one of the six balls, getting it away for two that brought him his fifty off 58 balls.
Burl was again beaten by the final delivery, but the batters stole a bye and Chivanga was run out attempting a second, making a disappointing total of 228.
There had been fine bowling from the Afghans, with Ahmad taking three wickets for 56 runs, while Farooqi, Nabi and Khan took two each, and it would take a similarly fine performance from the Zimbabwe bowlers and fielders if they were to prevent their opponents from running away with this match.
Muzarabani bowled the first ball of the Afghanistan innings wide and it went to the boundary to award the tourists five free runs.
Three boundaries from the bat followed in the first two overs, but in his next over Muzarabani struck by trapping Rahmanullah Gurbaz lbw for four, making it 17 for one.
After that, though, it was almost all one-way traffic.
Ibrahim Zadran and Rahmat Shah steadily picked off the Zimbabwe bowlers and accumulated runs at more than five an over in a huge second-wicket partnership.
They put on 195 for the second wicket in 39 overs before they were separated, with Zadran having already reached his century, which came off 114 balls.
Shah was perhaps too concerned to also reach his hundred before victory was completed, for with his score on 88 and the team on 212, he chased a ball from Tiripano outside his off stump and was caught at the wicket.
He faced 112 balls and hit nine fours in his fine innings.
Zadran, who had been the more aggressive of the pair, then made most of the remaining runs and victory was achieved comfortably with 33 balls in hand.
Zadran faced 141 balls and his 16 fours in his outstanding century.
Zimbabwe used eight bowlers in their efforts to break the big partnership, but only Muzarabani and Tiripano managed a wicket.
With the victory, Afghanistan have clinched the three-match series, having also won the first game on Saturday.
The last ODI between the sides is set for Thursday.