Williams, Tiripano heroics in vain as Test series ends in draw

Afghanistan – 545-4 declared and 108-4 in 26.1 overs (Rahmat Shah 58, Ibrahim Zadran 29, Hashmatullah Shahidi 6*; Ryan Burl 2/16, Blessing Muzarabani 2/25). Zimbabwe – 287 and 365 all out in 148.5 overs (following on) (Sean Williams 151*, Donald Tiripano 95, Kevin Kasuza 30; Rashid Khan 7/137, Javed Ahmadi 1/40, Sayed Shirzad 1/49). Afghanistan won by six wickets

Despite a wonderful eighth-wicket partnership of 187 between Sean Williams (151 not out) and Donald Tiripano (95), Zimbabwe went down to Afghanistan by six wickets and so had to share the Test series with one victory to each side.

Zimbabwe began the final day of the second match in Abu Dhabi with their score on 266 for seven wickets, with Williams on 106 and Tiripano 63 and their eighth-wicket partnership worth 124 runs.

Williams had a stroke of luck off the first ball of the day, from Sayed Shirzad, as he tried to turn a ball on the leg side – it popped into the air but just out of reach of any fielder. Tiripano steered his first delivery between slip and gully to the boundary.

Shirzad bowled some bouncers at Tiripano, and he twice had to get treatment from hits on the helmet and the shoulder. On 67, he survived an edge into the slips off Rashid Khan, which did not quite carry to the fielder.

After that, though, there were no alarms, and the two batsmen continued to fight for the runs with admirable concentration.

They passed the previous Zimbabwe record partnership for the eighth wicket, that of 168 between Heath Streak and Andy Blignaut against West Indies at Harare Sports Club in 2003/04.

The partnership lasted almost until lunch, adding 187, when Khan returned and finally trapped Tiripano lbw for 95 with a googly that shot through low off the pitch. Tiripano’s heroic innings lasted 258 balls and he hit 16 fours – he richly deserved a century.

One more run was added before lunch was taken at 330 for eight wickets, a lead of 72 runs; Williams had 137, with Blessing Muzarabani still to score.

Muzarabani began very cautiously in support of Williams, but when Amir Hamza tried to tempt him to self-destruct, he slogged him for four fours in an over. In the following over Hamza tried again, and Muzarabani swallowed the bait, only for the deep leg-side fielder to drop the chance.

Later in the over, however, Muzarabani pushed defensively at the ball and missed it, only to be given out caught at the wicket for 17, making Zimbabwe 362 for nine.

In the next over Williams reached his 150 off 308 balls, with the last man Victor Nyauchi now in as his partner. However, the innings ended there at 365, as Nyauchi was bowled by Khan, the only ball he faced.

Williams’ great innings of 151 not out came off 309 balls in nearly eight hours with 13 fours and a six. Khan, in 62.5 overs, took seven wickets for 137 in the innings, and 11 for 275 in the match.

Afghanistan needed 108 runs to win. Javed Ahmadi took strike and cut a loose first ball from Muzarabani for four; there were four byes, and then Ahmadi tried to cut the last ball of the over, and dragged it on to his stumps; eight for one.

Ibrahim Zadran played a steady game, while Rahmat Shah was soon attacking the bowling, hitting Nyauchi for three successive fours at one stage.

At the tea interval Afghanistan were 54 for one wicket, with Zadran on 13 and Shah 32. Ryan Burl came on to bowl and picked up the wicket of Zadran for 29, thanks to a fine diving catch by Tarisai Musakanda running back from mid-off; 89 for two.

Shah reached his fifty off 62 balls, but lost Shahidullah, who pulled a short ball from Muzarabani into the hands of Kevin Kasuza at short leg; 91 for three.

Shah drove Burl for a straight six to bring up the hundred for Afghanistan, but then he tried to flick the next ball across the line and was bowled for 58, by a ball that skidded through low; 101 for four.

That was Zimbabwe’s last strike, though, as Hashmatullah Shahidi made a couple of lusty blows and Afghanistan completed the task shortly afterwards by six wickets, Shahidi finishing on six and Nasir Jamal four.

Muzarabani and Burl took two wickets each for Zimbabwe.