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Afghanistan registered their second-highest ODI total of 333 and continued their dominance against Zimbabwe to win the first ODI by a thumping 154 runs. They have taken a 1-0 lead in the 5-match series, and both teams will now lock horns in the 2nd ODI at Sharjah on 11th February. The Afghanis had secured a 2-0 whitewash victory in the T20 series and will now be eager to annihilate the opposition in the limited overs format too. Zimbabwe on the other hand seem to be clueless on putting up a good defence against the Afghani spinners, and could try to strategize better in the upcoming game.
Middle-order batsman Rahmat Shah’s brilliant century in the first ODI was the building block of their resounding victory against Zimbabwe. They piled up big runs with Shah’s 114 off 110 while others like Ihsanullah, Mohammad Shahzad and Najibullah Zadran, who scored 81 off just 51 balls, pitched in with runs to take the scoreboard to 333, their second-highest ODI total ever.
The bowlers followed up with a disciplined spell, led by spinner Rashid Khan’s 4-26, to stifle the Zimbabwe batsmen and get them all-out for a meagre 179. Rahmat Shah showcased his all-rounder skills as he claimed a wicket; other spinners like Mohammad Nabi and Mujeeb Ur Rehman also took 3 wickets between them to restrict the opponents. Pacers Gulbadin Naib and Dawlat Zadran claimed a wicket each, and they won the match by a whopping 154 runs.
The batting line-up is quite deep and with new performers like Rahmat Shah in the squad, they can look to post a stiff challenge again if batting first or chase one down easily.
M Shahzad, Ihsanullah, R Shah, MA Stanikzai, Nasir Jamal, N Zadran, Mohammad Nabi, Gulbadin Naib, Rashid Khan, Mujeeb Zadran, Dawlat Zadran.
Captain Graeme Cremer used his spin skills to take 3 wickets in an economical manner while others like Kyle Jarvis and Sikandar Raza dismissed one opponent each; however, they couldn’t stop Shah and team from posting a gigantic total of 333 runs in the first match. They have good resources like Tendai Chatara, Ryan Burl and Brian Vitori, who can use their pace skills to pull up some surprises for the Afghanistan batting unit.
Chasing the gargantuan target of 334, the top-order came under pressure and players like Hamilton Masakadza and Brendan Taylor failed to make a good impression. Solomon Mire, who did well in the T20s, was the top-scorer with 34 while Craig Ervine pitched in with 33 runs. Sikandar Raza couldn’t come out all guns blazing and contributed with 25 while Jarvis tried to revive the innings but inn vain.
They fell short of the target by a huge margin of 154 runs after failing to recover from the collapse. Zimbabwe has put up a dismal show in series so far, but they have some promising talents who could help their side bounce back with confidence.
Hamilton Masakadza, Solomon Mire, BRM Taylor, Craig Ervine, Sikandar Raza, Malcolm Waller, Ryan Burl, Graeme Cremer, BV Vitori, Tendai Chatara, Blessing Muzarabani.
Afghanistan has shone with an all-round performance and their sturdy middle-order makes them more powerful than Zimbabwe. The contest could be well fought on Sunday, but we feel that Afghanistan are clear favourites to keep their winning momentum going.