Afghanistan have maintained their proud ODI series record against Zimbabwe, and ensured they will remain above them in the MRF Tyres ODI Rankings.
Afghanistan continued their domination over Zimbabwe with a 10-wicket thumping, underpinned by a five-wicket haul from 16-year-old mystery spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman.
For the fifth time in six games on this tour, Afghanistan’s teenage spin pair of Mujeeb Ur Rahman and Rashid Khan proved far too good for Zimbabwe’s batsmen; the pair have taken 31 of the 53 Zimbabwean wickets to have fallen across the ODI and T20I series between them, the African side unable to survive against their many variations.
At the age of just 16 years and 325 days, Mujeeb Zadran becomes the youngest player to take a five-for in ODIs, beating @waqyounis99 who took his first at 18 years and 164 days! #howzstat #AFGvZIM pic.twitter.com/U6G2dL6CBW— ICC (@ICC) February 16, 2018
Today it was Mujeeb who did the bulk of the damage, returning figures of 5/50. Opening the bowling as he has done throughout the tour, he claimed the wickets of both openers in his first three overs – playing expansive shots as dot balls built pressure – to reduce Zimbabwe to 15/2, a position from which they never fully recovered.
The third-wicket partnership of 39 between Tarisai Musakanda and Brendan Taylor was the highest of the innings as Afghanistan struck regularly, and that their run rate just barely nudged three and a half by the end of the innings showed how Afghanistan’s spinners were economical as well as incisive. Rashid Khan was especially tight, returning 2/28 from his 10 overs, while Mohammad Nabi’s 2/18 from seven also tied Zimbabwe down.
Had it not been for Craig Ervine, Zimbabwe may not even have crossed three figures. The No.5 made an unbeaten half-century, and, along with last man Blessing Muzarabani who made a valiant 17-ball duck, frustrated Afghanistan with a last-wicket partnership of 31 that consumed almost 10 overs.
A target of 135 was unlikely going to pose much challenge to a powerful Afghanistan batting line-up, but the unbeaten opening stand between Mohammad Shahzad and Ihsanullah was still impressive. Only leg-spinner Graeme Cremer went at less than a run a ball as the pair matched each other almost stroke for stroke. In the end, Shahzad only outscored his partner due to taking more of the strike, but he was the early aggressor, and when the break was taken he already had a 40-ball half-century to his name, his partner lagging behind on 17 off 31. Ihsanullah caught up after the resumption however, bringing up a 53-ball half-century with a boundary that sealed victory.
The win sealed the series for Afghanistan, continuing their historic domination over Zimbabwe – they are yet to lose an ODI series against them, having won four and drawn one of their five rubbers to date. It also confirmed they will finish the series placed No.10 in the MRF Tyres ODI Rankings, one place ahead of Zimbabwe.
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