BY DANIEL NHAKANISO THE Zimbabwe cricket team’s poor run of form continued as visiting Afghanistan cantered to a dominant eight-wicket victory in the second One Day International (ODI) at Harare Sports Club yesterday.
The result, which was rather obvious for long periods in the match, meant Afghanistan clinched the three-match series ahead of the final game on Thursday after winning the opening game last Saturday by 60 runs.
More importantly, Zimbabwe remain second from bottom on the International Cricket Council (ICC) Men’s Cricket World Cup Super League log with 35 points from 14 matches while Afghanistan are making inroads at the top end of the log in the third on 90 points from 11 matches.
After hardly putting a fight in the opening match, the Zimbabwe team were thoroughly outclassed again yesterday.
Not for the first time the batting was atrocious while the bowling department lacked the cutting edge while defending a meagre total as Afghanistan comfortably chased down their target of 228 with 33 balls remaining and eight wickets in hand.
Put in to bat first after Afghanistan won the toss, Zimbabwe laboured to 228 all-out in their allotted 50 overs courtesy of half-centuries from opener Innocent Kaia and Ryan Burl.
Playing in only his second ODI match after his debut in the series opener on Saturday, Kaia top-scored for the hosts with 63 off 74 balls.
His innings included one six and six fours before being caught by wicketkeeper Rahmanullah Gurbaz off the bowling of Fareed Ahmad.
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Kaia’s dismissal was followed by a batting collapse as the hosts slumped from 151 for three inside 31 overs to 177 for eight-six overs later and in danger of being dismissed for less than 200 runs.
While Kaisa’s knock gave Zimbabwe a decent start, Ryan Burl’s 51 off 61 deliveries ensured the Chevrons reached a respectable score after a middle order collapse.
Burl’s patient featured two fours and one six and he shared a crucial ninth-wicket partnership stand with Blessing Muzarabani, who played an important role despite scoring just nine runs from 21 deliveries.
Left-arm fast-medium Fareed Ahmad returned the best figures among the Afghan bowlers, taking three wickets for 56 runs while the trio of Fazalhaq Farooqi, Mohammad Nabi and Rashid Khan claimed two wickets apiece.
In reply, opener Ibrahim Zadran scored a magnificent century while Rahmat Shah followed up his 94 from the first match with another match-winning knock of 83 from 106 deliveries.
After Rahmanullah Gurbaz was trapped lbw for just four runs in the third over, the pair of Zadran and Shah shared a second-wicket partnership stand of 94 runs to steer the tourists to another convincing win.
Zimbabwe will now be hoping to salvage some lost pride in the third ODI at the same venue on Thursday.
- Follow Daniel on Twitter @danielnhakaniso