Rahmanullah Gurbaz's stunning 87 followed by a three-wicket haul from Rashid Khan helped Afghanistan to register a 48-run win in the opening T20I against Zimbabwe in Abu Dhabi.
After being asked in to bat by Zimbabwe, Afghanistan made the most of the opportunity by putting up a brilliant batting performance. Credit to the opening pair of Rahmanullah Gurbaz and Karim Janat, who started belting from the first over and did not let the momentum slip even for a moment.
They were 66/0 at the end of the Powerplay and looked well on course for a massive total. Gurbaz, especially, was in explosive form and soon got to his third half-century in the format in just 26 balls.
An all-round performance in the first T20I has given Afghanistan a 48-run win over Zimbabwe.— ICC (@ICC) March 17, 2021
Which 🇦🇫 player impressed you the most today?#AFGvZIM ➡️ https://t.co/EnxwWlgVcA
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Zimbabwe finally broke the 80-run opening stand soon after Gurbaz's fifty when Richard Ngarava dismissed Janat for 26. The next batsman in, Asghar Afgan, did not take a lot of time to settle and along with Gurbaz went after the Zimbabwe bowlers with intent.
The pair slapped Donald Tiripano for two sixes and four in his third over as the bowler leaked 19 runs off it. The duo shared a 74-run second-wicket stand before Gurbaz fell victim to Ryan Burl. The young Afghanistan batsman departed on a well-made 45-ball 87.
Afghan then continued in the same vein and got his half-century in the final over. Despite Zimbabwe pulling things back in the latter overs, Afghanistan managed to post a formidable 198/5.
In reply, Zimbabwe got off to a steady start, slowly picking up momentum. They lost their first opener Tarisai Musakanda in the fifth over at 38. Tinashe Kamunhukamwe and Sean Williams then looked to rebuild but could only add 45 runs for the second wicket.
The visitors kept losing wickets at regular intervals. Kamunhukamwe was the only batsman, who went past 40 runs.
The Afghanistan bowlers kept things tight and as the required run rate crept up, Zimbabwe began making mistakes. Rashid removed Kamunhukamwe on 44 and also picked up wickets of Richmond Mutumbami (15) and Wesley Madhevere (2). He finished with figures of 3/28.
Fareed Ahmad and Karim Janat picked up two wickets each. Zimbabwe could only manage 150/7 in their 20 overs.
Gurbaz was awarded the Player of the Match for his 45-ball 87, which was studded with six fours and seven sixes.
The next T20I will be played at the same venue on Friday, 19 March.
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