Afghans battle to level series
Mehluli Sibanda in Bulawayo
A BRILLIANT maiden century from Mohammad Nabi guided Afghanistan to a series levelling 58-run victory over Zimbabwe in the second One Day International cricket match at Queens Sports Club yesterday.
Man-of-the-match Nabi cracked a career best 116 runs off 121 deliveries, smacking three fours and six sixes in the process while opener Noor Ali Zadran chipped in with 60 runs as Afghanistan, who won the toss and batted first, made a competitive 271 runs for the loss of six wickets in 50 overs.
Zimbabwe were bowled out for 213 runs in 46.4 overs despite a fighting 46 runs off 33 balls by Luke Jongwe who hit seven fours and one six.
The result leaves the five-match ODI contest tied at 1-1 with three more matches to play, all at the same venue.
The third ODI is on tomorrow.
Afghanistan did not get a great start in their innings, losing a wicket with 25 runs on board, Mohammad Shahzad out to Tinashe Panyangara, caught behind by Richmond Mutumbami for 17 runs.
Zimbabwe introduced the hero in the first ODI triumph Wellington Masakadza in the 11th over but the left arm spinner and other slow bowlers could not stop the runs flow.
They were in for some severe punishment from Nabi and Noor Ali Zadran.
Nabi and Zadran’s partnership frustrated the Zimbabwean attack with their second wicket stand. Nabi raced to his half century from 59 balls with three fours and two sixes.
Zadran also reached his 50 after facing up to 87 balls of which five were dispatched for fours.
Nabi continued with his aggressive style, smashing off spinner John Nyumbu for massive sixes in successive overs.
With the spinners being dealt with, Zimbabwean captain Elton Chigumbura turned to his seamers again as Luke Jongwe was brought back into the attack in the 30th over.
Leg spinner Tinotenda Mutombodzi finally found the breakthrough for Zimbabwe, getting Zadran caught by Chisoro for 60 runs.
That brought to an end the second wicket stand of 133 runs between Nabi and Zadran.
Mutombodzi struck again in his next over to get rid of Nawroz Mangal, a superb catch from Chisoro sending the batsman on his way for two runs.
Nabi got to his maiden century off 105 balls with three fours and five sixes.
He finally perished when he was removed by Chisoro who had him taken at deep long on by Chamunorwa Chibhabha.
Nabi and Stankzai had put on 55 runs for the fifth wicket.
The visitors were soon five down for 224 runs, Masakadza getting his first wicket, Najibullah Zadran caught by Craig Ervine.
Afghanistan skipper Asghar Stanikzai contributed 39 runs to push his team past 250 runs. He lost his wicket trying to clear the boundary off Panyangara’s bowling, taken in the deep by Jongwe.
Samiullah Shenwari chipped in with 20 from 16 balls to take the tourists to 271 for the loss of six wickets in 50 overs.
Zimbabwe did not get a fluent start they were looking for as they had Chibhabha throwing away his wicket, gone in the fourth over when he lofted a Dawlat Zadran delivery to be caught by Hamza Hotak.
Mutumbami looked solid in a 48-run second wicket stand with Craig Ervine prior to being dismissed by Nabi, brilliant caught by Noor Ali Zadran for a well played 35 off 39 balls with one four and three sixes. Zimbabwe still needed 209 runs to win with eight wickets in hand.
Ervine and Mutombodzi stabilised things for Zimbabwe in a 52-run stand for the third wicket before Mutombodzi fell for 27, dismissed by Hotak, brilliantly snared by substitute fielder Shafiqullah Shafaq.
Zimbabwe were soon four down having added one run to their score, Ervine caught and bowled by leg spinner Samiullah Shenwari for 43 runs.
The match drifted further away from Zimbabwe as they were reduced to 123 for five wickets, Sikandar Raza bowled by Shinwari.
At that stage, Zimbabwe still required 149 runs with five wickets in hand.
Chisoro was the sixth wicket to fall, Rashid Khan getting him taken in the deep by Najibullah Zadran.
Zimbabwe’s required run rate rose to over 10 runs per over as the game slipped away.
However with skipper Chigumbura and Jongwe at the crease, Zimbabwe were not ready to surrender. Jongwe was the more aggressive of the two batsmen in a stand worth 60 runs for the seventh wicket.
Chigumbura went with Zimbabwe still in need of 68 runs for victory, out to Aftab Alam who had him caught by Shafaq.
Any remaining hopes of Zimbabwe winning the match went with the dismissal of Jongwe who played onto his own stumps to be bowled Dawlat Zadran.
It was soon nine down, Masakadza bowled by Alam and the match was over when Nyumbu was run out by Alam.
Dawlat Zadran picked up two wickets for 25 runs in eight overs, Alam and Shenwari also had two wickets apiece.