Zimbabwe v Afghanistan, 4th ODI, Harare – Preview

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Hit For Six!

The home team's remarkable come-from-behind win in the fourth ODI has kept the series alive, with bowlers calling the shots so far

Having pulled off a stunning come-from-behind victory in a low-scoring humdinger on Tuesday, Zimbabwe will seek to make capital of the momentum when it takes on Afghanistan in game four of the five-match One-Day International series on Friday (February 24). 

Leading 2-0 after comfortable wins in the first two games, Afghanistan had appeared to be on course to seal the series at the Harare Sports Club when the bowlers shot the home side out for 129, and then the team raced away to 107 for 4. 

However, Chris Mpofu sensationally derailed the chase with three quick wickets on his way to figures of 3 for 24 as Afghanistan lost its last six wickets for just 19 runs to be shot out for 126 for a heart-breaking three-run defeat. It was also the lowest total that Zimbabwe successfully defended in ODIs. 

How quickly Asghar Stanikzai is able to rouse his boys from that result will determine how the game on Friday pans out. But while Afghanistan will reflect on an opportunity lost, it will also realise that Zimbabwe’s batting has not really fired all series long. 

In a series that has generally been dominated by the ball, no batsman from either side has crossed even 100 runs cumulatively. With 94 runs thus far, Rahmat Shah is the highest scorer across teams, while Craig Ervine leads the run-making chart for the home side with 72, also from three hits. The surface at the Harare Sports Club hasn’t encouraged big scores, with pace and spin alike holding sway. Tendai Chatara has led the quicker bowlers’ charge with eight wickets to date, while Rashid Khan, the teenaged Afghanistan leggie who will turn out for Sunrisers Hyderabad this season in the IPL, has taken seven wickets at an impressive 10.14. 

It will boil down as much to the mindsets of the two teams as their respective skills. Zimbabwe will feel it has a point to prove, having lost the last series to the same opposition 2-3 after bouncing back from 0-2 down to level things up. Afghanistan will be determined not to leave it late like it did the last time around, and to atone for Tuesday’s spectacular collapse that has left the series balanced on a knife’s edge. 

Teams (from): 

Zimbabwe: Graeme Cremer (capt), Peter Moor (wk), Ryan Burl, Tarisai Musakanda, Sikandar Raza, Malcolm Waller, Elton Chigumbura, Wellington Masakadza, Donaldo Tiripano, Tendai Chatara, Christopher Mpofu, Nathan Waller, Craig Ervine, Solomon Mire, Carl Mumbai, Richard Ngarava.

Afghanistan: Asghar Stanikzai (capt), Mohammad Shahzad (wk), Noor Ali Zadran, Ihsanullah Janat, Rahmat Shah, Hashmatullah Shaheedi, Samiullah Shenwari, Najeebullah Zadran, Mohammad Nabi, Rashid Khan, Gulbadin Naib, Kareem Janat, Dawlat Zadran, Farid Ahmad, Aftab Alam.

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