Zimbabwe In Sensational Victory Over Afghanistan

Zimbabwe 196 (Taylor 89, Raza 60, Khan 3/38, Rahman 3/49, Zadran 2/17) beat Afghanistan 194 (Shah 69, Nabi 51, Muzarabani 4/47, Raza 3/40) by two runs.

ZIMBABWE picked up their second win in the International Cricket Council Cricket World Cup Qualifier after an astounding last over triumph over Afghanistan, shutting out their nemesis by two runs at Queens Sports Club on Tuesday.

There was unbelievable euphoria and even a foray into the pitch which is only seen in local football matches as the fans could not control their excitement when left arm seamer Brian Vitori had Shahpur Zadran caught behind by Brendan Taylor to hand Zimbabwe what at some stage seemed like an impossible victory. Pace bowler Blessing Muzarabani and off spinner Sikandar Raza turned things around for Zimbabwe with ball in hand.

Zimbabwe are second on the log with four points, the same as Scotland who are on top because of a superior net run rate. The Scots, who floored Afghanistan by seven wickets at Bulawayo Athletic Club last Sunday saw off Hong Kong by six wickets at the same venue on Tuesday.

Raza was for the second time in a row the man of the match for his 60 runs and three wickets. Raza put on 98 runs for the fifth wicket with highest run scorer Taylor who made 89 as Zimbabwe, who won the toss and opted to bat were bundled out for 196 in 43 overs.

Half centuries by Rahmat Shah and Mohammad Nabi had Afghanistan poised for their first victory of the tournament until Muzarabani and Raza came to the host nation’s rescue. Muzarabani picked a career best four wickets for 47 runs from 10 overs while Raza took three for 40 off the same number of overs.

Zimbabwe struggled from the onset with Cephas Zhuwao dismissed by seamer Dawlat Zadran, taken in the covers by Nasir Jamal. It was soon two down with just six runs on the board, Solomon Mire removed by off spinner Mujeeb Rahman, taken at first slip by Inhsanullah Janat.

The 16-year old spinner was could have had his second, Taylor dropped on six at long on by Shah. Hamilton Masakadza was next, bowled by Rahman for three as the Chevrons crumbled to three down with just 17 runs to their credit.

A 49-run partnership between Taylor and Craig Ervine repaired the damage. Ervine went for 13, removed by off spinner Nabi, caught behind by Mohammad Shahzad.

Taylor went in unfortunate circumstances, chopping one onto his stumps off Dawlat Zadran to depart for 89 off 88 deliveries, having dispatched seven fours and three sixes.

Raza removed by leg spinner Rashid Khan, a blinder of a catch by Jamal at cover accounting for the batsman. His dismissal sparked a collapse with the last four wickets gone with just nine runs contributed.

Vitori struck first for Zimbabwe in the fourth when he trapped Janat leg before wicket for one. Tendai Chatara got the second wicket, the dangerous Shahzad the next to depart, brilliantly caught by Waller for 24 runs.

Muzarabani’s first wicket was that of wicket of Nasir Jamal, Raza with a beauty of a catch at point to leave Afghanistan three down for 58. Nabi was put down on 19 by Raza off Cremer’s bowling. It was one way traffic from there with a 98-run stand between Shah and Nabi taking Afghanistan closer to the finish line. Muzarabani accounted for Shah when he had him lbw. Three quick strikes brought Zimbabwe back into with Nabi, Sharafuddin Ashraf and Khan gone in swift succession.

The Zimbabwean fans were in delirium when Muzarabani picked up his third wicket, Najibullah Zadran taken at mid on by Cremer to leave Afghanistan on 173 for eight with 24 runs required. Muzarabani picked up his fourth, knocking over Rahman’s off stump to leave Zimbabwe needing just one wicket for victory.

With Muzarabani and Raza having finished their overs, Dawlat Zadran and Shahpur Zadran, the last wicket pairing lived through some edgy moments as they looked to get the required run.

Four were needed off the last over bowled by Vitori. It was all over three balls into that over, Taylor with the catch behind to get sweet revenge over a team which humiliated them 4-1 in a One Day International series in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates.

Zimbabwe have a break until their next match against Hong Kong at Queens Sports on Saturday while Afghanistan are in action at BAC on Thursday with Hong Kong their opponents.



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