Home side win by 2 runs in Bulawayo thriller that puts Afghanistan hopes in doubt.
Zimbabwe pulled off a stunning comeback to beat Afghanistan by two runs, taking the match-winning wicket in the final over of their Group B clash in Bulawayo.
Last pair Dawlat Zadran (10*) and his namesake Shapoor (7) looked to be edging towards the victory target and reached the 50th over needing 4 to win. But Brian Vitori (2/31) had Shapoor caught behind third ball of the over to complete a remarkable win that sent the home crowd into raptures.
Afghanistan, who have now lost both of their CWCQ matches so far, capitulated from a position of seeming dominance. It looked like they were cruising at 156/3 in reply to Zimbabwe’s disappointing 196, with Rahmat Shah compiling an accomplished 69 from 91 balls and putting on 98 with No.5 Mohammad Nabi (51 off 56).
At the drinks break Afghanistan needed just 50 runs from 20 overs with seven wickets in hand. But with the loss of Rahmat – lbw to the impressive Blessing Muzarabani (4/47) – went all their composure; Nabi fell soon after, Sharafuddin Ashraf was dismissed for a second-ball duck and Zimbabwe – and a buzzing home crowd – sniffed a remarkable comeback victory.
Rashid, stand-in skipper in the tournament, lasted just three balls before becoming the final wicket in a three-wicket over from left-arm spinner Sikandar Raza, to leave the final three wickets needing to cobble together 28 runs for victory. It proved beyond them. Muzarabani had Najibullah Zadran caught by skipper Graeme Cremer and in his next over – which followed a maiden from Raza – clean bowled Mujeeb Ur Rahman for his fourth wicket. With one wicket left and rangy left-armer Shapoor Zadran walking out to bat, Afghanistan still needed 20 to win. They blocked and nudged and nurdled their way close to the target to have Zimbabwean hearts aflutter, but in the end the tailenders had been left too much to do. Zimbabwe’s opening pair Tendai Chatara and Brian Vitori had bowled respectably up front, between them removing the dangerous Ihsanullah for 1 and the talismanic Mohammad Shahzad for 24, before returning at the end to finish off the innings and seal victory.
Earlier, a spirited bowling effort from Afghanistan, led by Mujeeb ur Rahman, helped Afghanistan bowl Zimbabwe out for 196. Despite half-centuries from Brendan Taylor and Sikandar Raza, Zimbabwe could last only 43 overs with Mujeeb picking up 3/49 in his nine overs and his captain Rashid Khan returning 3/38 in eight overs.
Zimbabwe crumble after Taylor and Raza's 98 run partnership, losing their last four wickets in the space of three runs to set Afghanistan a target of 197 runs to win their first match of #CWCQ. #ZIMvAFG LIVE ➡️ https://t.co/0tWVIr7ZuO pic.twitter.com/WzOy37CtCx— Cricket World Cup (@cricketworldcup) March 6, 2018
Electing to bat first, Zimbabwe got off to a disastrous start as they lost three wickets inside the first seven overs with just 17 runs on the scoreboard. Dawlat Zadran, the medium-pacer, struck with his very first delivery of the morning to get rid of Cephas Zhuwao for a duck. Mujeeb, the teenaged spinner who has made a habit of striking early blows for his side then got into the act. He first got Solomon Mire to edge one to Ihsanullah at first slip for 4 and then accounted for Hamilton Masakadza (3) soon after leaving Zimbabwe in a big spot.
The responsibility of guiding the team to safer shores once again fell on the shoulders of Taylor and he did not disappoint. Along with Craig Ervine (13), he started the rebuilding process with a 49-run stand for the fourth wicket before Ervine fell in the 18th over, caught behind off Mohammad Nabi.
Raza, who had smoked a 59-run century in the first game against Nepal, then joined Taylor in the middle and quickly got into his stride with a four and a six. Meanwhile, Taylor carried on with his merry ways, scoring a half-century in just 44 deliveries.
Raza, not far behind, got to his half-century soon too, taking 56 balls to get to the mark for the 12th time in his ODI career.
Just when it seemed like Zimbabwe were on course for a good total, however, Dawlat got the better of Taylor for 89 to break the 98-run stand between the duo, leaving Zimbabwe at 164/5.
That was just the break Afghanistan needed and once Raza was accounted for by Rashid for 60, the bowlers ran through the Zimbabwe lower order - the last five wickets fell for just nine runs.
The defeat puts Afghanistan's qualification hopes in doubt, coming as it does on the back of their defeat to Scotland in their tournament opener.