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Rashid, Ashraf shine in Afghanistan's five-wicket win over Zimbabwe

Rashid Khan (left) picked three wickets
Rashid Khan (left) picked three wickets

Afghanistan 121-5 (Nabi 40no) beat
Zimbabwe 120-9 (Rashid 3-19) by five wickets
First Twenty20 International in Sharjah

Rashid Khan and Sharafuddin Ashraf shared five wickets between them as Afghanistan restricted Zimbabwe to 120 for nine and later chased down the target in 14.4 overs with five wickets in hand in the first Twenty20 International in Sharjah to take a 1-0 unassailable lead in the series.

Afghanistan won the toss and decided to bowl first. Solomon Mire (34) and Hamilton Masakadza (18) struck a boundary each in the first two overs to set the tone for the innings.

Mire was handed a reprieve when he was put down at deep mid-wicket in the third over and it proved costly as he and Masakadza smashed three more sixes and a four in the fourth over.

The 50-run opening stand between the duo came off just 34 deliveries before Aftab Alam (1-31) had Mire caught at short mid-wicket and Zimbabwe ended the powerplay with a score of 52 for one.

The introduction of Aftab Alam (1-31), Gulbadin Naib (1-8) and Rashid (3-19) slowed down things considerably as Masakadza, Brendan Taylor (3), Sikandar Raza (1), Ryan Burl (8), Peter Moor (2) and Graeme Cremer (3) all fell cheaply. The late flourish came from Malcolm Waller (27 not out) with his 16-ball cameo helped Zimbabwe post 120 for nine in the 20 overs.

In the chase, Mohammad Shahzad (20) on his return to Afghanistan cricket gave a blistering start scoring two sixes and a boundary in his 11-ball cameo but they suffered a setback when they lost three wickets in quick succession and were reduced to 51 for three.

Nabi (40 not out) ensured Afghanistan got their chase under control with a fluent 27-ball knock that had four boundaries and three sixes while Ashraf (18) and Shafiqullah Shafiq (14 not out) also made brief support to steer them home in 14.4 overs with five wickets in hand.

Nabi was named the man of the match for his decisive knock during the chase. The second and final T20I will be played on Tuesday at the same venue.

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