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Afghanistan secured a 2-0 whitewash victory against Zimbabwe in the T20 series, and they will now go head to head in the 5-match ODI series, that begins with the 1st ODI at Sharjah on 9th February. Zimbabwe lost the decider on the second night in a row and will be eager to avenge their defeat with a better performance in the 50-over format. Both sides will be geared up to lock horns and dominate the other in this important series before the World Cup Qualifiers in Zimbabwe next month.
Mohammad Nabi continues to be a strong all-round asset for the team, and his well-made 45 off 26 helped them post 158 runs in the 2nd T20 match. Middle-order batsman Najibullah Zadran also pitched in with 24 off 18 while captain Asghar Stanikzai did well to build the foundation with Mohammad Shahad and Karim Sadiq. Spinners Rashid Khan and Mujeeb Ur Rahman clinched 2 wickets apiece to stifle the opponents while Nabi showcased his spin skills with the wicket of Brendan Taylor. They won the match hands down by 17 runs to make a clean sweep in the T20s.
In the first match, spinners Rashid Khan and Sharafuddin Ashraf claimed 5 wickets between them to stun the Zimbabwe batsmen and restrict them to 120; pacer Gulbadin Nain was astounding with a figure of 1-8 in 3 overs and brings good depth to the attack along with others like Shapoor Zadran and Dawlat Zadran. Nabi’s well-made 40 off 27 steered the team across the finish line with help from Sharafuddin Ashraf and Shafiqullah in the middle-order.
Afghanistan has a fine mix of spinners and pacers, who have made life difficult for the Zimbabwe batsmen; they have received a morale boost with the T20 victory and would be raring to go for the kill.
M Shahzad, MA Stanikzai, R Shah, Ihsanullah, Mohammad Nabi, Rashid Khan, N Zadran, Gulbadin Naib, Dawlat Zadran, Mujeeb Zadran, Nasir Jamal.
Solomon Mire did well in the 1st T20, scoring 34 runs batting first while his partner Hamilton Masakadza contributed with 18 runs in that game followed by 29 runs in the next match. Both batsmen could open the innings in the ODIs as well and will be determined to put up a better fight against the Afghani spinners. Sikandar Raza’s 40 off 26 provided some hope during their chase for 159 in the 2nd match but it wasn’t enough to take them across the finish line. Ryan Burl contributed with 30 runs while Taylor pitched in only with 15 in the 2nd game and was out for just 3 runs in the first match.
They have players like Malcolm Waller, Peter Moor, Graeme Cremer who will lead the side, and Craig Ervine who bring a lot of experience in limited-over cricket. If they can play cleverly without losing quick wickets, the Zimbabweans can look forward to a positive outcome on Friday.
Fast-bowler had a successful T20 series, as he claimed 3-20 in the 2nd match and a wicket in the first; pacer Kyle Jarvis also claimed 3 wickets in total in an economical manner and brings variety to the squad along with Blessing Muzarabani, who proved to be costly in both outings. Cremer used his spin skills to dismiss 2 opponents in the 2nd match while all-rounders like Raza and Burl could help stifle the Afghanis.
Hamilton Masakadza, Solomon Mire, Craig Ervine, BRM Taylor, Sikandar Raza, Malcolm Waller, Ryan Burl, Graeme Cremer, Kyle Jarvis, Tendai Chatara, BV Vitori.
Having won the T20 series, Afghanistan clearly has the upper hand here, but the contest could be well fought by Zimbabwe too. Although both sides have a good balance in experience and young talent, we feel that Afghanistan with their spin attack are better placed to win the match.
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