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Afghanistan vs Zimbabwe 2nd T20I Preview: Dominant Afghanistan eye series win against Williams' men

Afghanistan v Zimbabwe / Abu Dhabi
©Afghanistan v Zimbabwe / Abu Dhabi

Zimbabwe were able to compete in the series opener but not do much else against a strong Afghanistan T20I side, which looks set to seal the series.

LIVE - Afghanistan vs Zimbabwe 2nd T20I 

The T20 gulf between AFG and ZIM

The delta between the two sides, especially in the shortest format of international cricket, was evident in the series opener as Afghanistan took the first match comprehensively by 48 runs.

It was not as if Zimbabwe did not compete. In fact, there were points in the match where the team had a equal chance of driving the initiative home but were unable to do so. Afghanistan, despite the absence of two of their key players in Mujeeb Ur Rahman and Gulbadin Naib, ultimately proved too strong for Zimbabwe.

And, this is how the status is expected to remain for the last two matches of the t20i series as well.

The margin of victory could have been bigger had Afghanistan not lost the toss. Despite Zimbabwe having the advantage of chasing, the gulf between the two teams was too much too bridge for Zimbabwe.

Afghanistan jumped into the box seat quite early on in the match following a 80-run partnership between openers Rahmanullah Gurbaz and Karim Janat. While gurbaz was the more explosive of the two, Janat's contribution of 26 off 22 deliveries cannot be sidelined as well as it provided the foil for Gurbaz to express himself.

Rahmanullah Gurbaz's steep rise

Rahmanullah Gurbaz's rise in a short international career has been tremendous. Afghanistan tried out the likes of Ikram Ali Khil once Mohammad Shahzad was out of the team's plans. However, ever since Rahmanullah Gurbaz made his T20I debut, he has progressed by leaps and bounds and is set to have a fulfilling international career.

Gurbaz played a match-defining knock of 87 off 45 deliveries in the 1st T20I but was still disappointed to miss out on a century.

"Of course (I regret missing out on a century). Every player would want to get a T20 hundred but my time will come," Rahmanullah Gurbaz said after his match-winning hand. "I don't mind missing the hundred as I always want to score runs for my team. I want to give a good start to the team and this is my role. My senior players and coaches kept on telling me to play my natural game and give us a good momentum in the first six overs."

"I think the wicket was good for batting and a little bit dead for the spinners. When I went to the pitch I tried to look at the pitch for the first two overs and then I played my natural game and the wicket was good for batting. I just wait for the loose ball and there is nothing like pre-plan or making any plan for any particular bowler. The only thing that I do is watch the ball till the end," he signed off.

Asghar Afghan, Rashid, Janat - the other Afghan stars

Asghar Afghan also struck a half-century for Afghanistan as the team set a target of 199. Blessing Muzarabani and Richard Ngarava were the top bowlers for Zimbabwe and picked up two wickets each.

Zimbabwe just did not have enough explosive firepower in their batting line-up to chase down a score in the proximity of 200. Although opener Tinashe Kamunhukamwe tried his best with 44 off 37 deliveries but with Afghanistan holding back Rashid Khan's four overs for the second half of the innings and the run rate mounting, it was just too much to take for the Zimbabwe batting line-up.

Apart from Rashid Khan's figures of 4-0-28-3, Fareed Malik and Karim Janat also picked up two wickets each for Afghanistan.

Zimbabwe's best chance to compete

For Zimbabwe to be competitive in this match, the first thing that needs to fall in their favour is for them to win the toss and chase again. Then, they need to restrict Afghanistan somewhere around 170 and have a really good game with bat.

If all these conditions go in their favour, only then Zimbabwe stand a chance of leveling the series.

Here are the squads of both teams:

- Rahmanullah Gurbaz (wk), Karim Janat, Usman Ghani, Hashmatullah Shahidi, Asghar Afghan (c), Najibullah Zadran, Mohammad Nabi, Rashid Khan, Amir Hamza, Naveen-ul-Haq, Fareed Malik, Afsar Zazai, Ibrahim Zadran, Sharafuddin Ashraf, Fazalhaq Farooqi

Zimbabwe - Tarisai Musakanda, Tinashe Kamunhukamwe, Sean Williams (c), Wesley Madhevere, Sikandar Raza, Richmond Mutumbami (wk), Ryan Burl, Donald Tiripano, Brandon Mavuta, Blessing Muzarabani, Richard Ngarava, Prince Masvaure, Milton Shumba, Regis Chakabva, Wellington Masakadza, Kevin Kasuza, Victor Nyauchi, Faraz Akram

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