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Zimbabwe look to seal series in fourth ODI

Afghanistan faces must-win match after falling 1-2 behind in five-match series

Zimbabwe look to seal series in fourth ODI - Cricket News
Tinotenda Mutombodzi plays a shot.
Zimbabwe will enter the fourth One-Day International against Afghanistan knowing that victory at Queens Sports Club in Bulawayo will give the side an unassailable 3-1 lead in the five-match series. By the same token, Thursday’s (October 22) match is a must-win affair for Afghanistan, with the side looking to stay alive in the series.
In the first ODI, Afghanistan was beaten comfortably by Zimbabwe, with the home side winning by eight wickets, in just 23.2 overs after the visiting side had been bowled out for 122.
However, the next two ODIs have seen Afghanistan find its groove. In the second match, Mohammad Nabi smashed his maiden ODI hundred, hitting 116 off 121 balls, to lead the side to a commanding 271 for 6. The bowlers all chipped in after that to keep Zimbabwe to 213 and win by 58 runs.
With parity restored, there was a new confidence in the Afghanistan side, and that was reflected in the closely fought third match. Contributions by the top order and a late surge by the tail pushed Afghanistan to 223 for 8, and the bowlers manfully strove to keep Zimbabwe’s batsmen from reaching the target. Eventually, Richmond Mutumbami’s 74 and Elton Chigumbura’s unbeaten 49 were enough to carry the home side past the line with just two balls remaining.
The six-wicket win meant Zimbabwe will have the advantage of a 2-1 lead heading into the final two ODIs, and needing to win only one of them to seal the series.
Both sides have had batsmen in form, but Zimbabwe’s bowling has given the home side an edge. While Nabi is the leading run-getter in the series so far, with a solid 42 in the third ODI backing up his century, Noor Ali Zadran, who made two half-centuries in the second and third ODIs, has given Afghanistan great solidity at the top of the order. All of Mutumbami, Chigumbura and Chamu Chibhabha have been in reasonable touch for Zimbabwe, with various batsmen contributing through the innings.
The home bowlers have been led by Tendai Chisoro, the left-armer, and Wellington Masakadza, the left-arm spinner, who have both bagged six wickets each in the three ODIs. Both of them have had economy rates below 4.5 too, with Chisoro going at less than four per over.
On the whole, batsmen have had reasonable success on the surfaces on offer in Bulawayo so far, and it could all boil down to which set of bowlers step up in the third ODI.
Afghanistan has shown that it can prove to be a match for the Zimbabweans when things fall in place. Equally, Zimbabwe has demonstrated that it is not an easy side to beat in home conditions. If Afghanistan can bring it all together one more day, the series will remain alive heading into the fifth ODI.
Teams (from)
Zimbabwe: Chamu Chibhabha, Richmond Mutumbami (wk), Brian Chari, Sean Williams, Elton Chigumbura (capt), Sikandar Raza, Tino Mutombodzi, Luke Jongwe, Wellington Masakadza, Taurai Muzarabani, John Nyumbu, Tendai Chisoro, Neville Madziva, Tinashe Panyangara, Craig Ervine.
Afghanistan: Asghar Stanikzai (capt), Dawlat Zadran, Shapoor Zadran, Aftab Alam, Mohammad Shahzad (wk), Najibullah Zadran, Mirwais Ashraf, Shafiqullah, Samiullah Shenwari, Nawroz Mangal, Mohammad Nabi, Hashmatullah Shahidi, Fareed Ahmad, Amir Hamza.

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