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Afghanistan clinch last-over thriller against Zimbabwe

Afghanistan clinch last-over thriller against Zimbabwe
Dawlat Zadran conceded 15 runs in the 20th over almost losing the game for Afghanistan.
©Christopher Whiteoak

Afghanistan 187-7 (Ghani 42) beat
Zimbabwe 182-7 (Waller 49no) by five runs
First Twenty20 International in Sharjah

Despite a 15-run final over from Dawlat Zadran, Afghanistan overcame a late resurgence from Zimbabwe to win the first Twenty20 International in Sharjah by five runs.

Afghanistan decided to bat first on winning the toss. They had three changes to their lineup with Nawroz Mangal, Hashmatullah Shahidi and Noor Ali Zadran replaced by Karim Sadiq, Usman Ghani and Najibullah Zadran.

Donald Tiripano made his debut for Zimbabwe in T20I replacing Neville Madziva.

Mohammad Shahzad (33) was given an early reprieve in the third ball of the innings when Chamu Chibhabha (0-25) misjudged a catch at deep square leg.

Shahzad and Ghani (42) adopted an aggressive approach putting early pressure on the Zimbabwe bowlers scoring 62 runs in the first six overs.

Graeme Cremer (3-17) was introduced in the seventh over and he straightway created an impact castling Shahzad.

Askhar Stanikzai (8) became the second victim of Cremer after holing out to deep mid wicket. Afghanistan were 77 for two at the end of nine overs.

Sadiq (16) was promoted to number four as he and Ghani shared a brief 29-run stand but Cremer and Sikandar Raza (1-27) struck in successive overs to dismiss the duo leaving Afghanistan in trouble.

Gulbadin Naib (37) and Mohammad Nabi (26) provided the much needed late flourish for Afghanistan during their 52-run stand which came in just 27 deliveries to take the score past 150.

Despite losing wickets at the end, Rashid Khan's (14 not out) five-ball cameo ensured Afghanistan ended their innings at 187 for seven from the 20 overs.

Cremer was the pick of the Zimbabwe bowlers with three wickets and conceding just 17 runs.

Zimbabwe got off to a worst possible start losing Peter Moor (2) in the third ball of the innings to Dawlat (3-32).

But Chibhabha (18) and Hamilton Masakadza (33) plundered the second over from Mirwais Ashraf (0-22) for 22 runs.

The onslaught from Chibhabha came to an end when Dawlat dismissed him having caught at mid-on.

Richmond Mutumbami (19) announced his arrival with two sixes off Sadiq (0-14) but fell to Naib's medium pace after finding the man at long-on. Zimbabwe were 54 for three at that stage.

After a 16-run 11th over from Naib (1-28), Zimbabwe again found themselves in trouble losing the prized wicket of Masakadza castled by Nabi (1-31).

A 56-run stand for the fifth wicket between Malcolm Waller (49 not out) and Raza (19) resurrected the innings but the required-run-rate kept climbing as Zimbabwe needed 45 from the last three overs.

Raza smashed a six in the first ball of the 18th over from Amir Hamza (1-23) but perished in the same over with Zimbabwe needing 36 runs from the final twelve deliveries.

Waller and Elton Chigumbura (8) struck a six each in the penultimate over and Zimbabwe were left with an uphill task of needing 21 from the final over from Dawlat.

Dawlat found it tough to handle the slippery ball as he bowled a wide and a no-ball in the first two deliveries.

But Zimbabwe failed to capitalize on the free-hit with Chigumbura running himself out looking for a second run.

Luke Jongwe (10) hit a six and a four to raise Zimbabwe hopes with just six needed from the final two deliveries. But, Dawlat managed to hold on his nerve dismissing Jongwe in the final delivery ensuring a five-run victory for Afghanistan.

Naib was awarded the man of the match. The second and final T20I between these two teams is scheduled on 10th January.

© Cricket World 2016