Afghanistan 191 for 5 (Usman 65, Naib 56*) beat Zimbabwe 190 for 7 (Williams 54, Mutumbami 43, Dawlat 2-24) by five wickets
Afghanistan sealed another historic cricket first with a 2-0 Twenty20 series victory over Zimbabwe in the second match at Queens Sports Club yesterday.
Opener Usman Ghani and allrounder Gulbadin Naib led Afghanistan’s charge, as they chased down Zimbabwe’s 190 for 7 winning with one ball to spare.
Ghani weathered a fierce short-ball assault from Zimbabwe’s quicks to rush to his first T20 50, and after he departed, Naib picked up from where he left, marshaling the second half of the chase and registering a maiden 50 of his own.
Their efforts meant that Sean Williams’ quickfire 54, which equalled the Zimbabwean record for the fastest T20 50, went in vain.
Afghanistan needed a good start to their chase, and it seemed that Mohammad Shahzad would lead it when he rushed out at the very first delivery to slash it over cover for four.
Yet it was the 18-year-old Ghani, who did most of the scoring, as they rushed to 56 at the end of the powerplay.
All three of Zimbabwe’s seamers targeted him repeatedly with the short ball, and though Ghani was made to look uncomfortable, he also frequently managed to find the boundary.
He collected three boundaries in Neville Madziva’s first over, all of them off the back foot and one thanks to a top-edged hook that flew high over wicketkeeper Richmond Mutumbami’s head.
Another top-edged bouncer in Madziva’s next over brought four more, and Chris Mpofu’s change of ends was greeted with a straight six down the ground, before the bowler responded with a barrage of bouncers, one of which almost knocked the young batsman off his feet.
Ghani rushed into the 40s with another six down the ground, this time off left-arm spinner Wellington Masakadza, and when he brought up his 50 — from 32 balls in the eighth over — Shahzad had only just reached 20.
Ghani added a third six, off Chamu Chibhabha, but the medium-pacer then nipped out two wickets in two balls to bring Zimbabwe back into the game.
It took a tumbling catch at long-off by Madziva to remove Ghani and, with the batsmen having crossed, Chibhabha then deceived Shahzad with a slower ball to trap him lbw for a relatively sedate 24.
That reduced Afghanistan to 95 for 2 at the end of the 11th over, with the required rate already above ten, and Zimbabwe increased their advantage further when Mpofu’s bullet throw from the deep had Mohammad Nabi run-out for 15.
With 58 needed from 30 deliveries, Naib, who had been offered a promotion to number 3, came to the fore.