Zimbabwe fall again as Afghanistan seal T20I series win

Afghanistan – 193-5 in 20 overs (Karim Janat 53, Usman Ghani 49, Mohammad Nabi 40; Blessing Muzarabani 2/44, Ryan Burl 1/7, Donald Tiripano 1/30). Zimbabwe – 148 all out in 17.1 overs (Ryan Burl 40, Donald Tiripano 24, Tarisai Musakanda 22; Rashid Khan 3/30, Mohammad Nabi 2/20, Naveen-ul-Haq 2/28). Afghanistan won by 45 runs

Only a fighting innings of 40 by Ryan Burl, supported by Richmond Mutumbami and Donald Tiripano, provided a bright spot for Zimbabwe as Afghanistan cruised to a 45-run victory in the second Twenty20 international (T20I) match played in Abu Dhabi today.

Some fine batting by Afghanistan gave them a score of 193 for five wickets, and as Zimbabwe lost their top-order batsmen quickly, they never looked like challenging it.

Zimbabwe lost the toss for the third match out of four, and had to field as Afghanistan chose to bat first on a superb batting pitch. Sikandar Raza opened the bowling for Zimbabwe, and Rahmanullah Gurbaz drove two fours in the first over.

Richard Ngarava, however, did what Zimbabwe needed, as with his second delivery Gurbaz (9) flashed at a ball moving away just outside the off stump and edged a catch to the keeper, Mutumbami.

Karim Janat came in next and quickly got underway by driving Raza for six and four in his next over. The other opener, Usmal Ghani, survived a run-out chance with only a single to his credit, but Ngarava worked up a good pace and beat both batsmen with his speed.

Blessing Muzarabani, on the other hand, could not find his accuracy and Janat hit him for two sixes and two fours in an over. After 10 overs Afghanistan had reached 86 for one wicket, and the 100 went up in the 12th over.

Both batsmen were on 49 at one stage, but Ghani, who had become rather bogged down, flicked a catch off Tiripano to Muzarabani at short fine leg, making Afghanistan 111 for two after 12 overs.

In the next over Janat reached his first T20I fifty, which took him only 31 balls. After reaching the landmark Janat began to hit out rather recklessly, and Burl produced a straight ball that bowled him out for 53; 121 for three in the 15th over.

The scoring quickened as Mohammad Nabi came in and hammered three sixes in an over off Brandon Mavuta, with 23 coming off the over.

Najibullah Zadran was playing a quieter innings, scoring 12 before he drove a catch to long-off off Muzarabani; 154 for four after 17 overs.

Nabi’s innings then came to an end when he had scored 40 off 15 balls, with four sixes and two fours, as he was caught near the midwicket boundary off Muzarabani; 171 for five in the 19th over. Ngarava, who had bowled his first three overs for only 13 runs, did not bowl the final over so well and 18 runs came off it, including a no-ball.

The total therefore reached 193 for five wickets, with Asghar Afghan on 14 and Rashid Khan nine, both not out. Muzarabani picked up two wickets for 44 runs, while Burl took one wicket for seven runs in the two overs he was given.

When Zimbabwe batted, they had no option but to be aggressive from the outset if they were to have any hope of reaching the target at almost 10 runs per over.

Tinashe Kamunhukamwe suffered a most unfortunate start, as the first ball of the innings from Naveen-ul-Haq broke in sharply, struck him a crippling blow around the knee, and in addition was given out lbw to a ball that was heading down the leg side.

It was a classic case of adding insult to injury. Sean Williams came in next and steered skilful fours off the first two deliveries he faced.

In the next over, however, he aimed a slog-sweep at a straight ball from Nabi and was clean-bowled for nine, leaving Zimbabwe at 11 for two after eight balls. At 27, Wessly Madhevere chased a wide delivery and was caught at point for seven; 28 for three.

Tarisai Musakanda made 22 off 15 balls and then drove a ball from Amir Hamza to be caught at long-on; 44 for four in the sixth over. Raza hit out at everything he could, and perished to a catch on the midwicket boundary for 15; 56 for five in the seventh over.

With all the main batsmen out, it was left to Richmond Mutumbami and Burl to repair the innings. After a while Burl began to improvise and played some good attacking strokes, including a six off Khan over midwicket.

After 10 overs the score was 80 for five. Having played himself in, Burl showed his best form and in Khan’s next over hit him for two more leg side sixes, the second of which brought up the 100.

The pair took the score to 118 in the 14th over before Nabi struck again, as Mutumbami missed a reverse sweep and was out lbw for 21. Burl went on to make 40 before, aiming for another six off Khan, he was caught at deep midwicket, having faced 29 balls; the score was now 141 for in the 17th over.

Mavuta went for a big hit off the first ball he faced and was also caught at deep midwicket. The rest of the Zimbabwe batting crumbled, with four wickets falling in just seven balls.

In between, Tiripano hit a six off Khan, but was bowled for 24 attempting a reverse sweep, the bowler’s third wicket in the over. The innings closed with the first ball of the next over, the 18th, as Janat yorked Muzarabani without scoring, and the final total was 148.

Khan had figures of three for 30 off just three overs, while ul-Haq and Nabi took two wickets each.

The victory gave Afghanistan – who won the first game by 48 runs – the three-match series, with the final T20I set for tomorrow.