Recent Match Report – Afghanistan vs Zimbabwe 2nd T20I 2022

Afghanistan 170 for 5 (Najibullah 57, Nabi 43*, Chatara 2-33) beat Zimbabwe 149 for 7 (Kaia 54, Raza 41, Rashid 2-32, Farooqi 1-19) by 21 runs

Afghanistan overcame a late dash from Sikandar Raza to successfully defend 170 and sew up the T20I series 2-0, with one game to go, in Harare. Rashid Khan, who had an off day until the final exchanges, dismissed the big-hitting Raza for 41 off 21 balls and Ryan Burl for a duck in a decisive 18th over that cost just seven runs.

Zimbabwe opener Innocent Kaia scored his first T20 fifty, but needed 52 balls for the landmark as he struggled to find a higher tempo through his innings.

When Raza joined Kaia, Zimbabwe were 66 for 3 in the 11th over, with the asking rate ballooning towards 11. Raza briefly pricked it by launching four sixes – all in the arc between deep midwicket and wide long-on. The sequence even included a swiped maximum off Rashid.

After managing a run-a-ball 2, Rashid dropped a fairly straightforward catch at deep midwicket to reprieve Tadiwanashe Marumani on 3. Marunami added 27 to his tally before Mohammad Nabi had him skying a return catch. Rashid then ended up leaking 17 runs in an action-packed 15th over that also contained two reprieves by Azmatullah Omarzai for Kaia.

Returning to the attack in the 18th over, Rashid saw Kaia hoick him over midwicket for four. Three balls later, Rashid unleashed a fizzing wrong’un that castled an advancing Raza. When Burl holed out, the game was all but up for Zimbabwe.

It was Farooqi who shut down the chase after Raza forged a 70-run partnership with Kaia. With a delightful cocktail of wide yorkers, stump yorkers and slower bouncers, Farooqi hiked the asking rate, forcing Raza and Kaia to take undue risks against Rashid. Farooqi came away with figures of 1 for 19 in his four overs. It could have been 2 for 19 had Najibullah Zadran held onto a catch offered by Regis Chakabva in the 19th over.

Earlier, Farooqi had made the first breakthrough by pinning Wessley Madhevere in front with a slower cutter. Captain Nabi singled out Farooqi for special praise at the post-match presentation, calling him the “game-changer”. Farooqi’s Player-of-the-Match award enhances his T20 reputation: he has played only 11 T20s so far, but already has gigs in the IPL, BPL and the T10 league under his belt.

Nabi himself had made a significant contribution to Afghanistan’s victory, following up his unbeaten 22-ball 43 with 1 for 18 in two overs.

When Nabi had walked out to bat, Afghanistan were wobbling at 88 for 4 in the 13th over, with Darwish Rasooli also having retired hurt on 12. Nabi had a slow start – he was on 7 off 8 balls at one point – but cranked up the tempo to hit three sixes and a four off his next six balls to give Afghanistan’s innings the final push it needed.

Nabi clubbed another six in the last over, bowled by Tendai Chatara, to drag Afghanistan up to 170 for 5. He struck up a 70-run stand with Najibullah off a mere 40 balls. Najibullah raised his second successive half-century and seventh overall in T20Is. Thirty-eight of his 57 came against spin.

Despite the early loss of Rahmanullah Gurbaz, Afghanistan were aggressive at the top, shellacking 51 runs in the powerplay. Hazratullah Zazai was responsible for 28 off those, which came a strike rate of 215.38.

Chatara and Luke Jongwe made inroads into the line-up before Nabi and Najibullah took center stage. Legspin-bowling allrounder Burl was Zimbabwe’s most economical bowler, returning 1 for 15 from his three overs a day after he had claimed 3 for 14 in the last match. Zimbabwe, however, ultimately slid to their fourth consecutive defeat, which has put their prep for next month’s T20 qualifier in some disarray.

Deivarayan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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